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Japan shame World Cup yet profit from 'fair play'

World Cup
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Japan's surprise draw shows Uruguay have some things to fix

Brazil drawing with Venezuela in Group A, Argentina's problems in Group B -- but Uruguay being held 2-2 by Japan in Group C is the biggest surprise so far in the 2019 Copa America.

The other guest side, Qatar, are at full strength, with the team that won the Asian title earlier this year. They are battle hardened, and clearly in a more advanced stage of preparation than many of their South American opponents. None of this applied to Japan versus Uruguay.

Firstly, because the Uruguayans are by no...

Lopsided Chile win masks major issues for ageing 'golden generation'

Defending champions Chile got off to what looked like a flying start in defence of their title. But a study of the game, rather than just the 4-0 scoreline over Japan, is rather less comfortable for Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda, who at times looked like a worried man on the touchline.

The causes for concern are genuine and won't be papered over by victory against a novice Japan side. Chile still have individual talent, and in flashes, they recall the title winning teams of 2015 and '16; There are...

2019 Copa America ultimate preview: Will Messi win this wide-open tournament on Brazil's home turf?

Brazil will host the Copa America for the first time in 30 years, with a tournament that is full of drama. Chile will look to defend back-to-back crowns, the Selecao will seek redemption on home soil, and Lionel Messi returns to Argentina for another chance at silverware with the senior national team.

ESPN FC's Tim Vickery spells out the biggest storylines of the tournament and assesses all 12 teams taking part in this summer's Copa America, with all matches streaming live in the U.S. on ESPN+.

Jump...

Qatar's Asian Cup win shows that possession could be poison in international football

From the universality of Total Football to the Petrosian-like stoutness of Jose Mourinho, it has always been said football has an evolutionary or permutable quality.

Rules have sometimes influenced dominant tactics, much like changes to offside laws creating the W-M formation, or the back-pass rule facilitating the implementation of targeted pressing and higher defensive lines.

More often than not, however, tactical shifts and trends are based on ideology.

And so when Qatar comfortably defeated...

Japan's Asian Cup exploits highlight Shinji Kagawa's sharp decline

The last time Borussia Dortmund won the Bundesliga back in 2012, Shinji Kagawa was a crucial part of the team.

Fast-forward to now, as the German side sit pretty on top of the table heading into February, the 29-year-old is a bit player at best. Still, that is more than he manages with his homeland.

The last time Japan became Asian champions in 2011, the playmaker was one of the stars. As he watches his compatriots on television on Friday in the final of the 2019 Asian Cup against Qatar, Kagawa...

Australia, Iran, Japan, South Korea lead expanded field at '19 Asian Cup

The newly-expanded 2019 Asian Cup that kicks off on Saturday in Abu Dhabi with hosts United Arab Emirates (UAE) against Bahrain may feature some new teams but those contesting the final on Feb. 1 in the same city are likely to be more than familiar.

The usual quartet of Japan, South Korea, Australia and Iran are favourites among a field that now contains 24 runners instead of 16. Only the last of that quartet still have the same coach in the UAE as they had in Russia last summer at the World Cup....