When Manchester United pair Javier Hernandez and Shinji Kagawa come face to face in opposition on Saturday, they might well have their heads in their hands and be tempted to discuss how the Confederations Cup has gone so wrong for Mexico and Japan over the last week.
Or maybe they won’t (they could hate each other for all I know) but either way, the meeting of the two nations in Minas Giras is the very definition of a dead rubber: both sides, beaten by Italy and hosts Brazil, have no points and no chance of playing in the semi-finals next week.
While this may have been expected given that the two teams that top the group are far more talented, there will still be regrets when they are packing their bags to go home on Sunday morning: for Japan, the failure to take something from their 4-3 defeat to Italy despite being the better side for large parts of the game; for Mexico, their failure to turn up in any meaningful way.
How disappointing have Mexico been? They hardly mustered a shot in their two defeats, scored only from the penalty spot (via Hernandez) and have looked as toothless as Shane MacGowan.
Japan, by contrast, have given a good account of themselves despite consecutive losses and on the evidence of the tournament so far, the Asians look like the bet at 31/20 to send Mexico back up the road with their tails between their legs.
Jose de la Torre’s side are 33/20 – the draw’s a 12/5 shot – but I really fancy the chances of the Japanese here.
Alberto Zaccheroni’s men have played well for most of their two games, only undone by a soft underbelly that will need work before they return to Brazil for next year’s World Cup. But looking at Mexico’s recent record, they seem incapable of taking advantage of any defensive weakness.
El Tri’s recent form is terrible: the loss to Brazil on Wednesday extended their run to just one win in 11 games, a sequence that has seen them score just seven goals, drawing six blanks.
Mexico have scored just one goal from open play in their last five games and in Kagawa, Shinji Okazaki and Keisuke Honda, Japan can cause the Mexicans the sort of problems they gave to Italy in midweek.
It makes the 31/20 on a Japan win the only way to go, especially with De la Torre threatening to give some of his young stars a run out.