World Cup previews: Colombia v Japan

Here’s what the Football Manager 2018 data has to say about the likely line-ups for this match. The explanation for this is here but in a nutshell I’ve treated the Football Manager database like a scouting tool and compared the two teams across a range of measures by combining their in-game attributes.


Here’s how the two teams stack up in terms of overall ability according to Football Manager’s researchers, i.e. the game’s hidden ‘current ability’ stat:

Colombia definitely have an edge here, with Sanchez, Cuadrado and Falcao the stars and Mojica at left back the only apparent weak link. Kagawa looks to be Japan’s star player, although apart from Shoji in central defence and Kawashima in goal they also look relatively solid.

Goal threat

Let’s have a look at where each side’s goals could come from using the various attributes around converting chances:

Falcao is unsurprisingly the standout goal-getter here, although the Colombian midfield five – and Sanchez in defence – all look pretty capable of taking any chances that fall their way. For Japan, Kagawa and Inui in midfield look as likely to pop up with a goal as the striker Osako.


Here’s who might be instrumental in getting the ball to the aforementioned likely goal-getters by unlocking the opposing defence:

For Colombia, Quintero looks the most likely central player to create chances, but the pairs of wingers and full backs all appear capable of unlocking a defence, so Japan’s full backs will probably have a busy afternoon. Kagawa is the likeliest Japanese player to make things happen, although Inui and Shibasaki to his left should also be watched.


Finally let’s have a look at which players are the most mobile, both in terms of raw speed and their ability to sustain their movement over the course of a match:

Japan certainly aren’t lacking in this department, with their flanks particularly mobile – the only problem is that Colombia also look particularly energetic out wide. Both sides also boast a mobile Premier League centre back in Sanchez and Yoshida respectively, so space may well be hard to come by for both teams given the lack of cumbersome defenders to exploit.