Natal, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - Two teams hoping to rebound from tough opening-game losses will meet when Greece clashes with Japan in Group C action Thursday at Estadio das Dunas.
Greece was on the wrong end of a 3-0 rout to Colombia in its first game of the tournament. They surrendered a goal in just the sixth minute of the contest, and despite some promising attacking play, failed to crawl back into the match.
Japan, on the other hand, struck first in its match with Ivory Coast, with Keisuke Honda putting his side into the lead in the 16th minute. The Elephants picked up serious momentum in the second half, though, scoring in the 64th and 66th minutes to pull ahead and grab a 2-1 victory.
Both teams will be looking to hang onto their hopes of pushing through to the knockout stage with a crucial three points.
Greek midfielder Georgios Samaras insisted there was reason for his side to remain positive moving forward after being held without a goal.
"We have more to give at this tournament, but I think we showed something today," he said. "It was a strange game. For the first five or six minutes, we didn't seem to be 100 percent in it and we conceded a bad goal. But after that, we had a lot of possession, a lot of pressure, and created some quite good chances."
Japan boss Alberto Zaccheroni claimed his men gave their all but were not quite cohesive enough.
"We weren't aggressive enough and we need to improve on that because we've been playing better than that," he said.
Honda had his own take on where things went wrong, believing that Japan didn't have enough possession.
"Possession, that is our strength," said Honda. "When we have the ball we just need to keep the ball and not give it away easily. When we do lose the ball we should press immediately. That is our philosophy. The last game we lost the ball too easily so that is how we spent a lot of energy in the first half, that is the point. That is why we must concentrate on keeping the ball."
Given the defensive lapses that contributed heavily to these teams' opening- match defeats, Greece will be looking to build on those aforementioned positives, while Japan will be hoping to stay composed for a full 90 minutes and do better on the ball.
Both teams will also be hoping for a draw in the match between Colombia and Ivory Coast, the two teams looming overhead at the top of the group.