With a host of stars playing at big clubs in Europe, Japan pose arguably the biggest threat for the Caltex Socceroos in the final stage of World Cup qualifying - little wonder the October 11 clash in Melbourne has fans salivating.
The football will be amazing and the occasion hugely important in the context of the group.
October’s blockbuster at Docklands Stadium promises to be another absolute ripper between these two AFC heavyweights.
We take a look at three Japanese players who the Samurai Blue will be relying on to get a result against Ange's Aussies.
Shinji Kagawa: the playmaker
The 27-year-old is coming off an excellent season in the Bundesliga helping Borussia Dortmund to second-place behind runaway leaders Bayern Munich.
The attacking midfielder made 46 appearances in all competitions, netting 13 goals to help Dortmund make the Final of the DFB Pokal and the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Europa League.
Kagawa also netted a superb brace in Japan’s 7-2 demolition of Bulgaria in March's Kirin Cup. Little wonder Manchester United signed him in 2012.
Japan’s most gifted footballer, Kagawa’s silky dribbling and ability to pick out a pass means the Socceroos defence will need to be on high alert in Melbourne.
Has a superb goal-scoring record from midfield for the Samurai Blue too, scoring 27 goals in 80 appearances.
Shinji Okazaki: the goal machine
Not often a reigning EPL winner comes to town.
What a season it has been for Okazaki! The 30-year-old striker was a crucial figure as Leicester City completed an incredible fairytale to claim the English Premier League title ahead of Arsenal and Tottenham.
The attacker was a mainstay for the Foxes side alongside Jamie Vardy, making 36 appearances for Claudio Ranieri’s side and contributing five goals.
Okazaki’s work ethic and willingness to fight for every ball made him a real fan favourite last season, helping dynamic Englishman Jamie Vardy thrive as the side’s number one goal-scorer.
At national-team level, Okazaki is lethal. The former Stuttgart front man has netted 48 times for his nation in 102 matches, the most of any current Samurai Blue player.
Keisuke Honda: the midfield engine
The AC Milan man may not have enjoyed his best season in the Serie A but there is no doubting his quality.
The classy midfielder is one of Samurai Blue’s most important players, named player of the tournament at the 2011 Asian Cup and is the country’s all-time leading-scorer at FIFA World Cups.
Honda has netted 35 goals in 80 appearances for the national team and has caused the Socceroos plenty of problems in the past with his quick feet and willingness to run at defenders.
Was in scintillating touch in the previous stage of World Cup qualification too, finding the net on six occasions in seven matches.
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