Colombia talisman James Rodriguez, the sensation of the last World Cup, is a doubtful starter for Tuesday's Group H opener against Japan in Saransk.
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Japan claimed their first victory of the year on Tuesday, coming from behind to beat Paraguay 4-2 and boost morale a week before their opener.
Switzerland striker Haris Seferovic gave his morale a needed boost scoring for his team in a 2-0 win against Japan on Friday.
A late change in coach, a poor run of form and a serious lack of confidence has many Japan fans worried about the 2018 World Cup.
Brazil didn't go far in 2006 but for one night in Dortmund, the samba did come to town.
Takuma Asano of Arsenal and Leeds United's Yosuke Ideguchi were among the players cut as Japan confirmed their 23-man squad for the World Cup.
Four of Asia's five representatives started the final phase of preparations for the World Cup. But what did we learn?
The Black Stars defeated the Asian heavyweights 2-0 with goals from Thomas Partey and debutant Emmanuel Boateng.
New Japan coach Akira Nishino named Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa to Japan's squad on Friday for a friendly on May 30 against Ghana.
Vahid Halilhodzic's sacking is not ideal for Japan, so the experience of Keisuke Honda, Yuto Nagatomo and Shinji Okazaki will be vital in Russia.
Japanese star Keisuke Honda is on a shortlist of six players in the sights of the FFA as it looks to inject the A-League with some marquee magic.
The 2019 Copa America in Brazil will feature Japan and Qatar and no teams from North America.
Vahid Halilhodzic cannot get over his sacking by Japan with just over two months to go until the start of the World Cup, he has told Goal Croatia.
Japan decided to sack Vahid Halilhodzic two months before heading to Russia, giving Akira Nishino little time to turn around their lacklustre form.
Japan fired coach Vahid Halilhodzic on Monday, two months before the World Cup, and immediately replaced him with Akira Nishino.
With just three wins in nine friendly games, Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic has a number of headaches to deal with ahead of the World Cup.
All five Asian World Cup participants are busy in this international break. ESPN FC takes a look at where they all stand as Russia 2018 gets closer.
Shinji Okazaki, Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda will make peace with coach Vahid Halilhodzic, as Japan football thrives in 2018, wishes John Duerden.
South Korea handed fellow 2018 World Cup finalists Japan a brutal 4-1 thrashing in Tokyo on Saturday night to win the 2017 East Asian Championships.
Japan made it two wins out of two in the East Asian Championships after Gen Shoji's outrageous strike helped them to a 2-1 win over China on Tuesday.