Game: Japan vs. México
Date: Sunday, June 13th
Time: 1:00 a.m. Eastern, 12:00 a.m. Central, 10:00 p.m. Pacific, 2:00 p.m. Japan, 5:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Kanseki Stadium Tochigi (Utsonomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan)
All-time record: Japan has won four of the five contests against México with El Tri winning the fifth, a 2-1 victory in the 2007 World Cup Qualifiers. Japan had won the first leg 2-0 however, and advanced to the World Cup in China. The teams met in the following World Cup in Germany, where Japan beat México 4-0 en route to their only World Cup win to date.
Mónica Vergara and México continue to show their ambition as they take on 11th ranked Nadeshiko Japan in Utsonomiya, an hour and fifteen minute train ride north of Tokyo. Since breaking their year long hiatus in February against Costa Rica, México has also faced 36th ranked Costa Rica, 46th ranked Slovakia, and 13th ranked Spain.
México has been in Japan for over a week in preparation for the match. The squad is very heavy with players from Liga MX Femenil, whose season ended on May 31. They do have players like Emily Alvarado and Maricarmen Reyes from the NCAA system as well as European-based players like Kiana Palacios and Kenti Robles, with the Europeas joining the team on June 7th.
Japan will be their toughest test yet. With the home field advantage and an experienced squad, Japan is a perfect 3-0-0 in 2021. They’ve beaten 49th ranked Paraguay 7-0, 61st ranked Panamá 7-0, and 31st ranked Ukraine 8-0 this year, with all matches taking place in Japan.
The match against Spain showed a lot of the flaws that México has both in defending as well as creating chances, and Japan will be an equally stern challenge. With the added time to work on these things as a collective in Japan away from (most of) the glare of the media, it will be very interesting to see what changes Vergara and staff make and if those changes are effective or not.