The 2018 FIFA World Cup is about to wrap up its first round of matches and the competition has been nothing short of exciting.
There have been many upsets and a lot of tightly-contested games that have made the event must-see for even casual fans.
And most recently, another big win from a minnow has turned the competition on its head as Japan successfully beat Colombia in the Group H battle.
The match was very entertaining as both teams pushed forward to try and attack, but at the end the Samurai Blue prevailed with a 2-1 victory.
Here are a few takeaways from that match-up between the two teams.
EARLY CARD CHANGED THE GAME’S COMPLEXION
Japan were given a very early advantage after Carlos Sanchez was given a straight red card in the third minute for using his arm to stop Japan from having a scoring opportunity.
Replays showed the defender stretching his right arm out to deflect the ball awry, but it was right in the line of sight of the referee and he immediately pointed to the spot.
The red card trimmed down the Colombian squad to only ten men and they found themselves in a hole after Shinji Kagawa converted from the corresponding penalty three minutes later.
Despite having the clear advantage on paper, missing one player on the pitch clearly changed the dynamic of the game and Colombia even had to resort to an early substitution to try and stabilise their defence.
COLOMBIA HAVE THE QUALITY
With the man disadvantage and the 1-0 deficit, many immediately dismissed Colombia’s chances as the odds were clearly stacked against them.
However, the South American team still showed their quality as they seemingly kept possession of the ball for the most part of the first half, appearing to neglect the disadvantage they had with Sanchez being sent off.
They were still moving the ball around and appeared to beat the Japanese to the position as they pressured and pushed the Asian nation’s defences for the most part.
Colombia would eventually be rewarded for their efforts in the 31st minute as Radamel Falcao won a free kick for his team after clashing with the Japan defence. Juan Quintero impressively beat the Japan wall with a low strike that broke the goalkeeper’s line and level the game.
THE JAMES RODRIGUEZ HYPE
In the 2014 World Cup, James Rodriguez became a household name after leading the Colombians to an improbable march to the knockout stages.
Many believed that he would lead the line for his team in Russia and replicate their previous performances in the competition.
Unfortunately, he was hampered by a calf injury that restricted him from being part of the starting XI of the team. Many clamoured at the chance of him and Falcao playing together but it only happened when he came on as a substitute in the 59th.
At least for this clash, James was nowhere to be found. Colombia barely had the touch of the ball in the second half and frustration was clearly visible on James’ face.
That resulted in a yellow card in the 86th and James failed to start off his competition on a high note.
It could be the injury he is nursing, but it appears that James has a steep hill to climb to try and carry an entire nation on his shoulders for the second-straight year.
NEXT GAMES CAN DETERMINE THEIR FATES
With the teams only playing their opponents once in the group stages, Japan are now in the driver’s seat as they hope to move on in the competition.
Three points promises them a spot in the top two slots of Group H after the first games have been played, and that puts the pressure on the rest of the teams to try and catch up.
Next are Senegal and getting at least a point against the African team will still see them keep their hopes alive for an appearance in the next stage.
As for Colombia, things are certainly not going to get easier as they face a tough Poland outfit who are considered as one of the favourites in the group.