Japan and Ecuador face off in their last Copa America Group C clash on Monday, kicking off at 8:00pm local time in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, meaning it will be a midnight kick off in the UK. Japan know that a win may be enough to secure a quarter final place, whilst Ecuador have the slimmest of chances to progress.

Japan

Japan have brought a young squad to Copa America, in order to give their players much-needed experience ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympic games in 2020. They were dealt a huge blow in their first game, as they were contentedly beaten 4-0 to current champions Chile. However, in the 2nd game against Uruguay, in a match they were given no hope, they ended up delivering a sublime performance and count themselves as unlucky not to win the match.

Two goals from Koji Miyoshi, put them 1-0 and 2-1 up against Uruguay, but they couldn’t keep the lead on either occasion. Despite having less possession and shots, Japan’s efforts were excellent and if some penalty decisions went their way, they would have got a surprising victory. With one point to their name, they must win this final match to qualify.

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Ecuador

Ecuador came into the tournament as the most out-of-form team, so no one can be truly shocked to learn that they have lost their two opening matches to Uruguay and Chile. The first match hadn’t panned out as they had hoped, as they were reduced to 10 men for the majority of the match – as they eventually lost 4-0 to Uruguay. In the 2nd game, they did restore some pride by going toe-to-toe with Chile for most of their game, but were ultimately beaten 2-1 by a 2nd half Alexis Sanchez strike.

Ecuador’s chances of progressing have been helped by group B, as the best 3rd place team only has 2 points. Therefore, a win here against Japan would be enough for them to earn a quarter final place, albeit against Brazil. Can they finally end their long run without winning a competitive game (going back to 2016), and book themselves a place in the quarter finals?

Head to Head

The teams have played each other three times in their history, but none of them have been in a major tournament. Their first, and only semi-competitive meeting, was back in 1995 in the Kirin Japan Cup, which Japan won 3-0. Ecuador won a friendly one year after that, and their most recent meeting was in 2006 in an international friendly, which Japan won 1-0 at home. This will be their first ever meeting in South America.

Our Predictions and Betting Tips

Ecuador are slight favourites to win at 23/20, with Japan priced at 11/5 to win. A draw, which would see them both eliminated, is at 13/5. Backing a team who hasn’t won a competitive game since 2016 isn’t my wisest ever choice, but that’s exactly what I am going to do here! I’d tip Ecuador to somehow qualify for the quarter finals, with a narrow 2-1 victory over Japan, at 8/1.

Japan looked impressive against Uruguay, but with that extra pressure for a young side, I believe they may wobble here against an Ecuador team who have nothing to lose. Enner Valencia scored in the last game, and I’d tip him to score again at any time at 23/20. To increase your odds significantly, add Japanese player Koji Miyoshi to score as well at 17/2 in a double goal scorer bet. I hope there will be plenty of goals in this one, so backing there to be more than 3.5 goals at 13/8 should be considered.

Finally, with VAR involved, we are overdue a penalty at this Copa America, so I’d put a cheeky bet on there to be a penalty taken at 21/10.

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