BILLY BUNTER

Weblog: The football punter

Champions can coast to victory in Sao Paulo

Premier Sports, midnight Monday

It's a step into the unknown for punters as a weakened Japanese outfit get ready to take on Chile in their Copa America opener.

The Asian guests have decided to use this tournament as preparation for next year's home Olympics in Tokyo so 18 players have arrived from the Under-22 side with five experienced players around in Brazil.

To make things even harder to evaluate where this Japan side would be in the world pecking order, manager Hajime Moriyasu selected nearly an almost entirely different team for his warm-up friendlies against Trinidad and Tobago and El Salvador from the squad he selected for the Copa.

Only seven of the squad have been capped at international level and there is a huge lack experience in this kind of company outside goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, midfielder Gaku Shibasaki and Shinji Okazaki.

All eyes will be on teenager Takefusa Kubo, who has just signed for Real Madrid, but the reality is the outsiders should be outclassed even though Chile look past their best.

The Alexis Sanchez-Arturo Vidal generation is not what it was and the chances are the holders won't play a major part in the latter stages of the Copa but Chile's first opponents appear ill-prepared.

Recommendation
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Match in Focus

20:00 Fr 19Jul

Senegal v Algeria

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Senegal have conceded only two goals in their last 12 matches.
Expert verdict
Senegal were edged out in a tight contest against Algeria in the group stages but the Lions of Teranga get their chance to exact their revenge and they can win when it matters most to claim their maiden Africa Cup of Nations title.They have kept clean sheets in five of their six games and, although the opposition they have faced can be questioned, it is easy to see why opposition struggle with Kalidou Koulibaly, Cheikhou Kouyate and Alfred N'Diaye in their ranks.