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Group A: Japan

Nickname:Samurai Blue

Fifa ranking:32

Coach:Alberto Zaccheroni (Italy)

Star Players:Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan); Atsudo Uchida (Schalke); Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow); Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United); Shinji Okazaki (Stuttgart)

Recent form:L, D, W

Asian champions Japan enter the Confederations Cup high on confidence, after becoming the first team to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil next year.

Coached by Alberto Zaccheroni, who led AC Milan to the Scudetto in 1999, the Samurai Blue comfortably progressed from their Asian qualifying group with two games to spare, and they have been able to take their foot off the pedal ahead of the Confederations Cup.

Known for their irrepressible dynamism and hard running style, Japan get the Confederations Cup underway with a juicy encounter against hosts Brazil on Saturday.

They will start the match as historical underdogs, and may not be expected to survive Group A with Italy and Mexico to battle with.

But their opponents will write Japan off at their peril.

Click here to see our Samurai Blue photo gallery!

It was a new-look Japan that powered to the Asian Cup in 2011, and two years later their eye-catching team has grown into well-oiled and dangerous machine.

They have battle-hardened players throughout their squad, with a spine that is the envy of all but the best international teams.

At the back, Yuto Nagatomo of Inter Milan and highly-rated Schalke star Atsudo Uchida combine ruthless tackling and first-rate reading of the game.

In midfield, dead ball expert and talisman Keisuke Honda of CSKA Moscow has vast experience in the Champions League, and has taken over where previous engine room stars Hidetoshi Nakata and Shunsuke Nakamura left off.

Alongside Honda is Manchester United playmaker, Shinji Kagawa. He wears the number 10 shirt, and will be tasked with driving Japan’s attack forward with his intelligent passing, darting movement and clinical finishing.

And up front, Shinji Okazaki leads the line, boasting an impressive record of 33 goals in 63 starts for his country. Okazaki was top scorer at the Asian Cup, and the Stuttgart ace pairs his finishing with traditional centre -forward skills, as an effective foil to the devastating midfield talent behind him.

Click here to see a video of Japan and Manchester United star Shinji Kagawa in action!

The most successful team in the history of Asian football, the Samurai Blue are underdogs to watch in Group A at the Confederations Cup.

Preview: Italy v Japan

Preview: Brazil v Japan

Brazil Smash Three Past Japan

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