Australia vs Japan World Cup Prediction, Odds, Picks

  • Only one of these teams is likely to qualify for the 2022 World Cup automatically
  • Japan have three more points than Australia as the finish line comes into view
  • Australia realistically need to win this one, but a draw would suit Japan

Australia vs Japan Odds

Australia vs Japan Thursday 24 March 2022, 05.00 AM EST
Best Line
Total Goals
2.5 +145 2.5 -185
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Australia vs Japan

Australia vs Japan Pick

Back Japan to beat Australia (-185)

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Australia vs Japan Predictions

Australia Have It All To Do To Qualify Automatically for Qatar

In 2001, Australia beat American Samoa 31-0 in a World Cup qualifier for the tournament that was to be held in Japan and South Korea the following year. It remains a record scoreline and was further proof if any were needed, that the Socceroos had outgrown the Oceania Football Confederation. By the time the next World Cup kicked off in Germany in 2006, Australia had swapped Oceania for the Asian Football Confederation.

The motivation was twofold. First, it would help to grow the game in Australia, a country where soccer competes for attention with cricket, rugby, and Aussie rules football. Fans of the sport would be able to watch the national team lock horns with the likes of Japan, Iran, South Korea, and China on a regular basis. Australia would compete in the Asian Cup and its club sides would represent the country in the Asian Champions League.

Secondly, it would make the national team stronger. Australia were never going to improve when most of their time was spent playing against the likes of Tahiti, Fiji, and Tonga. Even New Zealand, the current heavyweights in Oceania, is rarely a match for their larger neighbor. Australia have undoubtedly gotten better since they joined Asia.

The qualification has also become easier. While previously Australia was virtually guaranteed a place in the intercontinental play-offs, they had to overcome a strong South American side to qualify.

Now they can compete for one of four automatic spots in Asia. There is work to do this time around, though: going into the final two rounds of fixtures, Australia are three points adrift of the top two (two teams each from Group A and Group B qualify automatically). As well as facing second-placed Japan on Thursday, they will take on group leaders Saudi Arabia next week. Graham Arnold’s side is up against it.

Unseeded Austria Rely on Nations League To Reach Playoffs

Whereas Wales qualified for the playoffs by finishing second in their group, Austria has made it this far by virtue of their showing in the 2020/21 Nations League.

Franco Foda’s side only managed a fourth-place finish in Group F, finishing behind Denmark, Scotland, and Israel. They won just one of their six meetings with those opponents, but the fact they beat Norway to the top spot in their most recent Nations League group has given Austria a second bite of the cherry.

Their chances of making it to Qatar depend on which version of Das Team shows up. Austria played beneath themselves in qualifying, and they struggled for consistency at last summer’s European Championship. Austria was disappointing in a 2-0 loss to the Netherlands, much improved in a 1-0 victory over Ukraine, and unfortunate to lose in the round of 16 to eventual winners Italy.

Austria certainly have the quality to beat Wales, but they must also play with the sort of organization and cohesion that has at times eluded them under Foda.

David Alaba will be key, but it is still unclear where exactly he will play: at the start of Euro 2020 he was curiously deployed at the heart of the back three, before later being moved to left-back. If Austria are to qualify for their first World Cup since 1998, they will need Alaba to be at his brilliant best.

Avoiding Defeat Would Put Japan Within Touching Distance

Japan have become a fixture of the modern World Cup.

The Samurai Blue made their debut in 1998 and have taken part in every edition since then, reaching the knockout phase three times. Indeed, merely qualifying for the competition is no longer the ultimate goal: Japan are now striving to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.

They are on course to book their place in Qatar later this year. Japan will expect to beat Vietnam on Tuesday; were they to do so, a draw against Australia would be sufficient to secure a top-two finish.

Japan lost two of their first three games in Group B, including a shock 1-0 home defeat by Oman on matchday one. Since then they have gone back to basics. Their last four victories have been to nil, including an impressive 2-0 triumph over Saudi Arabia at the beginning of February. Soccer has not always been scintillating, but Hajime Moriyasu is on the verge of fulfilling his remit by getting Japan to a seventh successive World Cup.

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Back Both Teams To Score in This Pivotal Qualifier in Sydney

Given that a draw would be a good result for Japan, some pundits anticipate a cagey approach from the visitors. However, in an interview last week Moriyasu suggested his team would not set out to play for a point.

“We’ve come this far looking at every game as a must-win game,” the Japan boss said. “We’ve been trying to win each one as it comes and we’re not about to forget that now. We’ve been aggressive in trying to win games and even though this one will be tough, we’ve overcome the pressure to get here.”

That is a smart approach. Playing for a draw is always risky, and the prize of a victory – a guaranteed place at Qatar 2022 – is too enticing to pass up. Japan will not go gung-ho in search of all three points, but nor will they simply sit back and spoil.

Australia, for their part, have had little trouble scoring goals so far: their eight games to date have yielded 15, more than any other team in the Asian section of qualification. Yet they have also struggled to keep things tight at the back at times, for example by conceding twice to Oman in their last match.

This is not a vintage Australia team, but they still carry an attacking threat and will look to physically dominate Japan here. The visitors to Sydney will also fancy their chances of finding the net, so back both teams to score on Thursday.

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How to Watch Australia vs Japan

Australia vs Japan Information
Teams Australia vs Japan
Location Accor Stadium, Sydney, Australia
Time Thursday 24 March 2022, 05.00 AM EST
How to watch Paramount+

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Greg Lea

Expert on Soccer

Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]