Japan's World Cup opener on Tuesday offers the Asian side an opportunity for revenge against Colombia, as they look to finally banish the bad memories of the 2014 edition in Brazil.
Four years ago, Japan met Colombia in their final group outing knowing they still had a chance of reaching the knockout phase, but they were crushed 4-1 by the South Americans.
As it turned out, any victory that day in Cuiaba would have sent the Samurai Blue through at the expense of Greece.
And Eiji Kawashima, who let those four goals in, says it is time to for Japan to make amends, with retribution on their minds ahead of the meeting in Saransk.
"Obviously they have a lot of talent," Kawashima said. "They've got a scorer [Radamel Falcao], they've got a passer [James Rodriguez]. We'll try to be well organised and try to reduce their space.
"We've been suffering for the past four years because of 2014. This time, we have to show ourselves that we can do something better."
The man tasked with leading Japan in Russia is not the same one who guided them through qualification, as Vahid Halilhodzic was surprisingly fired in April with little explanation from the Japanese Football Association.
Akira Nishino was the one to benefit from the debacle and presided over their three World Cup warm-up games, which have been a mixed bag – 2-0 defeats to Ghana and Switzerland before a 4-2 win over Paraguay.
Colombia's preparations have been less tumultuous aside from a few injury scares and Abel Aguilar is certain he knows how their group rivals are going to play against them.
"We must have the initiative, this team has been characterised by that," Aguilar said. "We seek to be protagonists of the game because we have players to do it, however, defensive strength is very important in this type of tournament.
H - Based on our World Cup predictor, Opta give Colombia (55.0%) the best chance of progressing from Group H at the 2018 @FIFAWorldCup. Tight.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 12, 2018
For more info on the how the Opta Predictor is calculated, click here: https://t.co/O5yVz0Y0Zl#COL #JPN #POL #SEN pic.twitter.com/Le67seZH2z
"Our rivals are going to try to neutralise our best players, so we have to support them. They feel protected in certain situations, so our work in the middle is vital to provide balance to the team."
James has been suffering with muscle fatigue in recent days, but he is expected to be able to feature in some capacity.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Colombia – James Rodriguez
Even if he is unable to feature from the start, James will be key to Colombia's effectiveness in attack, having enjoyed a solid first season with Bayern Munich after a difficult start.
Excellent on the ball, capable of scoring and creating goals, James carries a threat all over the final third and will be eager to get off to a strong start as he looks to defend his Golden Boot from four years ago.
Japan – Yuya Osako
While the likes of Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki are more recognisable on the international stage, Osako is expected to lead the line and he plays an important role in the Japan side.
Although not a prolific scorer by any stretch of the imagination, Osako is strong at keeping hold of possession and bringing team-mates into play, vitally knitting things together in attack.
KEY OPTA FACTS
- Top scorer for Colombia in the 2018 qualifiers and all-time at the World Cup, James has been directly involved in eight of his team's last 10 goals at the finals (six goals, two assists).
- Japan have won only two of their last 11 World Cup games (D3 L6), against Cameroon and Denmark in June 2010. They have also won just one of their five opening games in the competition (D1 L3), against Cameroon in 2010.
- None of Colombia's 18 games at the World Cup have ended goalless. In fact, only the United States (33) and Austria (29) have played more games in the competition without ever registering a 0-0.
|Mets place Syndergaard on DL with hand, foot and mouth disease|
|Cubs, Baez give young fan signed baseball after adult steals foul ball|
|To those who enjoy seeing others fail, I feel for you – Karius responds criticism|
|Barbasol Championship final round to resume on Monday due to thunderstorms|
|You can´t do whatever you want in life – Mourinho responds to Martial exit talk|
|Harvick bumps Busch out of way for victory|
|Klopp hails Dortmund star Pulisic after Liverpool loss|
|Fellow pro reveals Open winner Molinari´s retirement plans|
|Manchester United 0 San Jose Earthquakes 0: Sanchez returns in uninspiring draw|
|Laporte jealous of France World Cup winners|
|Tamim fires Bangladesh to ODI success|
|Liverpool 1 Borussia Dortmund 3: Pulisic inspires comeback to deny Klopp win against old club|
|My game is back - Spieth finds Open positives despite tough final round|
|Barcelona pay tribute to retiring Marquez|
|Blow for Thomas and Froome as Moscon is excluded|
|Woods earns WGC-Bridgestone Invitational place with rankings boost|
|Clay specialist Cecchinato lifts Croatia title on return to red dirt|
|Molinari´s safety-first masterclass yields deserved Open triumph|
|Alisson to link up with Liverpool at Evian training camp|
|Woods´ return no fluke, insists Spieth|
|Johnson shrugs off shoulder injury to win second 2018 title|
|The Open 2018 diary: Kane an able golfer, hats off to Hossler|
|Tiger and Serena will talk through Open disappointment|
|Molinari: It wasn´t about being ruthless to beat Woods|
|Tiger ´ticked off´ at missed Open opportunity|
|The Open 2018: Molinari triumphs - how a dramatic final round unfolded|
|McIlroy: Great to be back in the mix|
|Open victory will take a long time to sink in, says Molinari|
|Stoke sign McClean from West Brom for £5m|
|Masterful Molinari clinches sublime Open win after Spieth, Woods fall away|
|Germany´s Ozil retires from international football|
|Vikings OL coach Tony Sparano dies|
|BREAKING NEWS: Magical Molinari wins The Open|
|Dalic claims to be world´s second best coach|
|Twelve-try Wakefield batter Hull to send Rhinos into Qualifiers|
|Sevastova cruises to Bucharest title|
|Cort Nielsen sprints to first Tour stage win, Thomas maintains lead|
|Sarri needs support to deliver Chelsea success - Zola|
|Pjanic and Rugani in Juventus tour squad as Ronaldo and World Cup stars are rested|
|Eagle has McIlroy soaring into a five-way tie for the lead at Carnoustie|
|Vettel will not lose any sleep after Hockenheim mistake|
|I manifested my dream – Hamilton revels in Hockenheim win|
|Pakistan seal crushing series sweep of Zimbabwe|
|Furious Ozil accuses German media of turning country against him|
|Woods makes his move as Spieth and Schauffele wobble|
|Vettel crash sees Hamilton retake championship lead|
|RFEF confirms one-legged Supercopa de Espana in Tangier|
|Fognini downs Gasquet to clinch Swedish Open|
|Spieth and Tiger underway as Kisner falls back|
|Iniesta, Torres suffer defeats in their J.League debuts|
|Cornet ends title drought in Gstaad|
|Martial ´very focused´ at Manchester United - Herrera|
|Root, Williamson and Bairstow - hat-trick hero Clark flourishes in Roses battle|
|Sri Lanka spinning towards crushing series whitewash|
|Ozil explains controversial Erdogan meeting|
|It´ll be hard for Tuchel to get our players – Kovac expects Boateng stay|
|Fakhar Zaman fastest to 1,000 ODI runs|
|Neymar happy for World Cup winner Mbappe|
|I was born ready! - Bellew accepts Usyk challenge|
|Tuchel seeks Rabiot answers as Barca rumours persist|
|In-form Storm go top, Rampant Roosters thrash Manly|
|Bancroft discharged from hospital after taking blow to throat|
|MLS Review: Martinez breaks record as Atlanta march on|
|Brewers top Dodgers to snap seven-game losing streak|
|Munguia wins after 12-round marathon with Smith|
|Hart ready to leave City to revive career|
|Puel shuts down Schmeichel transfer speculation|
|Four-way tie at Barbasol Championship as Lincicombe misses cut|
|Lenglet happy not to face Messi|
|Tuchel keen to get PSG stars back after friendly defeat|