Europa League-bound Spanish club Real Betis were so excited about signing Inui this summer that they announced the move with the bizarre Dragon Ball Z video you see above you. Inui’s a nifty winger who can play on either side but will likely line up to Kagawa’s left in Russia. Japan will play at least two teams who are determined to have more of the ball, so Inui will probably get a few chances to show off his devastating speed. For an example of said speed, I direct you to the banger he scored on Villarreal last season.

Inui’s got some solid dribbling skills, and like any left wing player worth a shit, he loves to cut in on his right foot and seek out the goal. A brace against Paraguay probably solidified his spot in the starting lineup, and Nishino better hope Inui keeps up his habit of scoring great goals against the world’s best teams.

How They Play

Well, nobody knows for sure, since their manager has only been on the job for two months. Nishino experimented with a 3-4-3 formation against Ghana, which didn’t work, before opting for an orthodox 4-2-3-1 in subsequent games. That seems like Japan’s best lineup, with Kagawa pulling strings in the middle and the handsome Yoshinori Mūto on the opposite wing from Inui. Strikers Shinji Okazaki and Yūya Ōsako are both skilled at hold up play, and positionally speaking, the pieces of Japan’s attack fit together well.


Makoto Hosebe will lock down one of the defensive midfielder spots, and Nishino will likely pair him up with either Hotaru Yamaguchi or Gaku Shibasaki. Right back Hiroki Sakai is one of Japan’s better players, though thankfully, the knee injury he suffered at the end of Marseille’s season doesn’t seem like it will keep him from playing in Russia. Large Southampton center back Maya Yoshida will anchor the center of the defense, and 35-year-old Eiji Kawashima will keep watch over the goal. It’s not a flashy setup, but it is a solid one.

Group H Fixtures

June 19, 8 a.m.: Japan vs. Colombia at Mordovia Arena

June 24, 11 a.m.: Japan vs. Senegal at Ekaterinburg Arena

June 28, 10 a.m.: Japan vs. Poland at Volgograd Arena