FINAL FOUR

The action moves to the largest stadium in the land this weekend, where the final will also take place. The massive 75,000 capacity International Stadium in Yokohama opened in 1998, and the most notable match it has hosted thus far was the biggest of them all, the 2002 football World Cup Final. Brazil and Germany were the teams competing back then, but their rugby teams are unlikely to be making a final any time soon.

Yokohama is a famous port city lying on Tokyo Bay right next to the capital and is the second largest in Japan in its own right. If you’ve got some time to kill between matches, you can visit the impressive Hikawa Maru liner that was constructed in 1930 and is now moored permanently in Yamashita Park.

If museums are more your thing, there’s the Cup Noodles Museum, where you can make your very own flavour to take home. Or if you’re looking to fill your belly, Yokohama’s famous Chinatown will do the trick. Steamed buns are what most people go for here, but there are naturally many more options on offer.

The Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum is also well worth a look. Located near the bullet train station, you head down some stairs to find yourself in a recreation of 1950s Tokyo, complete with fake sky. As well as learning the history of ramen, all the classic ramen types are available for purchase here in recreated shops.

So what about the matches this weekend?

On Saturday, England take on New Zealand in what could be the game of the tournament. New Zealand are miles ahead 33-7 in the head-to-head record, but three of the last four matches have ended in extremely narrow New Zealand victories, two by a single point and one by three.

The All Blacks were at their polished best against Ireland, so I predict a narrow win for them. I’ll be cheering for the opposite result, though, and I definitely think the England team has it within them to defeat New Zealand, especially if the holders are even a touch off their A game.

The Sunday match sees South Africa face Wales. Wales picked up only one win in the first twenty-nine meetings of the sides, but have won five of the last six, including the last four. The one match they lost, however, was the big one, a World Cup quarter final in 2015.

In the quarter finals this year, South Africa extinguished the Japanese challenge with minimal fuss, despite some wayward finishing. Wales, on the other hand, nicked their game at the death, as the 14 men of France tired. Although a Wales win is very much possible, I’m going for South Africa on form.

So my prediction for the final is New Zealand vs South Africa. I’m hoping it’s England vs Wales though.

Semi-Finals
Saturday (1700 JST) England vs New Zealand (International Stadium, Yokohama)
Sunday (1800 JST) Wales vs South Africa (International Stadium, Yokohama)

Expression of the day
ごちそうさまでした! (gochisousama deshita)
Which means…
(It was a delicious meal!) (To be used when leaving a restaurant)

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