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.
Young Socceroos shaded by Japan in SBS Cup opener
The Young Socceroos have been edged out 1-0 by Japan in their opening match at the SBS Cup in Shizuoka on Thursday. Taisei Miyashiro capitalised on an unfortunate Noah Pagden slip to score what proved the winner in the 26th minute. The narrow defeat came despite the presenc
Europa League preview: Playoff spots on the line for a host of Aussies
A number of Caltex Socceroos will be out to keep their European hopes alive with their clubs on Friday morning (AEST) as qualifying for this season’s UEFA Europa League heats up. As many as five Caltex Socceroos could be in action in the second leg ties, including striker Jami
Former Caltex Socceroos defender hangs up the boots
Former Caltex Socceroo defender and inaugural Western Sydney Wanderers captain Michael Beauchamp has called time on a storied career in football. Beauchamp retired following the final match of the 2018 NPL NSW season with Marconi Stallions, who ended their comeback year in the
Aussies Abroad: EFL Cup wrap
It might be early in the English football calendar but with the English Football League Cup commencing this morning, the season’s first silverware is now on the radar for the 92 participating clubs. Several Australian players were in action during a round one that saw multiple