Japan aim to end Qatar’s dream run

Japan are just one win away from extending their record number of Asian Cup triumphs, but opponents Qatar have been the side to watch throughout the tournament in the UAE.

With the 2022 World Cup heading to Qatar, a lot focus has fallen on a side managed by former Barcelona youth coach Felix Sanchez Bas, who has got his side to perform superbly at both ends of the pitch.

Hard to break down

Qatar have yet to concede a goal in the competition, having skated through their group with three wins out of three, before putting paid to Iraq, South Korea and host the UAE in the knockout stages. Should they be rock-solid at the back again, they are 5.00 to win to zero against Japan.

But don’t let that miserly defensive record lead you to think that Qatar are a negative outfit, as they netted ten goals in their group and beat the UAE 4-0 in their semi-final.

Their victories over Iraq and South Korea did come by just a single goal, so Qatar to win the final by one goal at 4.45 may also tickle your fancy.

Striker Almoez Ali has been the star of the show with eight goals so far in the tournament, twice as many as anyone else, but he has only found the net once since the group stage.

Japan happy to edge through

Prior to their 3-0 semi-final victory over Iran, Japan had won all five of their matches at the Asian Cup by a single goal, showing that the four-time champions have the match management skills needed to go all the way.

They are 2.95 to defeat Qatar by a one-goal margin, while the Blue Samurai can be backed at 1.76 to score the last goal of the game. Werder Bremen forward Yuya Osako has been the standout performer with four goals, two of which came in the last-four win over Iran.

Hajime Moriyasu’s men shipped three goals during the group stage in the UAE, but have since tightened things up at the back and, like Qatar, are yet to concede in the knockout phase.

Finals are tight affairs

Seven of the last eight Asian Cup finals have been decided either by a single-goal margin or on penalties, with the sole exception coming in 2004 – when China were defeated 3-1 by Japan.

So, recent history suggests that neither side will be able to run away with the game, with the Blue Samurai available at 2.95 to prevail by a one-goal margin.

Extra-time has been needed on four occasions in the last eight finals, with a penalty shootout required in both 1988 and 1996, when both of those matches ended goalless after 120 minutes of action.

Taking into account past records, you would favour Japan to just have the edge when it comes to the crunch at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi and at 2.05 to win at full-time they are the favourites, with Qatar 3.90.