[JNT Position Depth Analysis] Midfielders

Center Midfielders:

  1. Keisuke Honda (Not officially registered as a MF, but he is registered as a Forward [FW])honda_keisukeStrengths: Mentality, strength, body balance, passing, shooting
    Weaknesses: Acceleration, pace
    Q: What does he bring to the team?
    A: Keisuke Honda is a rock in the offense. Excluding his lack of acceleration and pace, his strength and body balance make it extremely difficult to knock him off the ball. Honda also dictates the tempo of the match; this is why I put him on the top of the list for CM’s even though he is always played out on the RW.
  2. Makoto Hasebe (Captain)hasebe_makotoStrengths: Leadership, tackling, position, composure
    Weaknesses: Passing, heading
    Q: What does he bring to the team?
    A: Hasebe is the captain and the water carrier. A water carrier means he always covers space and positions to maintain overall team balance. The only other player capable of doing this is #4 Hotaru Yamaguchi.
  3. Yosuke Kashiwagikashiwagi_yosukeStrengths: Passing, technique, free kicks, stamina
    Weaknesses: Physicality, tackling
    Q: What does he bring to the team?
    A: Kashiwagi is a roaming playmaker that likes to find his way up the pitch to try and influence the game in high positions. He also will drop back to receive passes from defenders. One negative is Kashiwagi’s weak tackling which is linked to his lack in physical strength.
  4. Hotaru Yamaguchiyamaguchi_hotaruStrengths: Tackling, heading, positioning, short passing
    Weaknesses: Attacking ability
    Q: What does he bring to the team?
    A: Similar to Hasebe, Yamaguchi covers spaces and positions in the midfield so the other team cannot exploit them. Yamaguchi is also aggressive in the tackle and wins second balls, which helps Japan keep possession in the midfield. However, he is not a player to make a charging run up field to join the attack.
  5. Ryota Oshimaohshima_ryotaStrengths: Passing, technique, shooting
    Weaknesses: Defense
    Q: What does he bring to the team?
    A: With Oshima in the midfield, the ball will move around the field fluidly. Unfortunately against the UAE, he was not accustomed to the speed and physicality of international matches, so he was not able to display his strengths. With more experience, he will develop into a very exciting player for the JNT.
  6. Ryota Nagakinagaki_ryotaStrengths: Stamina, short passing, set plays
    Weaknesses: Tackling
    Q: What does he bring to the team?
    A: A box-to-box midfielder, Nagaki is a unique midfielder because he is the only one of this type in the current squad. However, Nagaki is not your ordinary box-to-box midfielder; Nagaki has a very high pass accuracy rate in the J.League with his club team Kashima Antlers.

In my opinion, Gaku Shibasaki should be in every call-up for the JNT. He will circulate passes around the pitch, make positive runs into the attacking third from deep positions, and he is not afraid to unleash the occasional blaster from distance. Shibasaki’s presence in the JNT would have given them much more options in midfield.

Attacking Midfielders:

  1. Hiroshi Kiyotake (CAM)kiyotake_hiroshiStrengths: Technique, passing, first touch, composure, free kicks
    Weaknesses: Strength, finishing
    Q: What does he bring to the team?
    A: Kiyotake is a chance creator. Whether it is from the flank or from the middle of the park, he is able to make an impact on the match with his polished technical attributes. However, he does not have the killer instinct to finish off moves one his own, like Shinji Kagawa can.
  2. Genki Haraguchi (LW/RW/FW)haraguchi_genkiStrengths: Acceleration, dribbling, shooting
    Weaknesses: Teamwork, vision
    Q: What does he bring to the team?
    A: Haraguchi is registered as a FW with the JNT, but because he will see playing time on the flank as a winger, I included him in this list of attacking midfielders. Haraguchi is playing well at club level with Hertha Berlin, and he always looks hungry to leave an impression on international matches. His strongest attribute is his ability to take on defenders one-on-one and then take a shot.
  3. Shinji Kagawa (CAM)kagawa_shinjiStrengths: First touch, dribbling, short passing, finishing
    Weaknesses: Strength, play-making
    Q: What does he bring to the team?
    A: Kagawa is a very attacking minded player. He has the ability to bring others into the game, but he will look to bury chances himself more often than not.
  4. Yu Kobayashi (LW/RW/FW)kobayashi_yuStrengths: Technique, positioning, attacking runs, finishing
    Weaknesses: Strength, heading
    Q: What does he bring to the team?
    A: Kobayashi is registered as a FW, but because I feel he will be played as a winger, I included him in this list. Kobayashi has a keen sense for goal. Perhaps this is from playing with Yoshito Okubo at Kawasaki Frontale. Nevertheless, Kobayashi makes great runs from wide positions into central areas, and he is able to receive the ball and then finish off chances.
  5. Manabu Saito (LW/RW/FW)saito_manabuStrengths: Acceleration, dribbling, shooting
    Weaknesses: Heading
    Q: What does he bring to the team?
    A: Because Saito plays out on the flank, I included him on this list. After Takashi Usami and Yoshinori Muto had to withdraw from the team because of injury, Manager Halilhodžić decided to call up Saito, and I feel this is a great decision, Saito is similar to Haraguchi because Saito also likes to take players on one-on-one, beat them, and then take a shot on goal.

In my opinion, Usami is going to be missed, but Haraguchi’s good form and Saito’s good form should be enough to cover Usami’s place. Taking a look at all of the central midfielders and attacking midfielders, it is apparent that Japan’s talent is in their attacking midfielders.

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