Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

International Focus: West Ham defender Fabian Balbuena in action for Paraguay against Japan

West Ham defender Fabian Balbuena is in action for his country today. The Paraguay international will represent his homeland in a friendly match against Japan at the Kashima Stadium.

Paraguay travel out to Japan for the friendly fixture before taking on Jordan next Tuesday. Both games are away from home and Balbuena needs to use the international break to prove a point.

Who will Fabian Balbuena face?

Yuya Osako plays in the Bundesliga. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

Balbuena plays in central defence so he will be up against the Japan attack. Hajime Moriyasu has picked his team with the Olympic games in mind so some of the more experienced players have been left out.


For example, Balbuena will not be tested by Newcastle United’s Yoshinori Muto or ex-Leicester City striker Shinji Okazaki. Instead, he needs to keep three other Japanese strikers quiet.

Yuya Osako is the leading marksman in the Japan squad. The 29-year-old plays for Werder Bremen in Germany and has scored 14 international goals. Kensuke Nagai (FC Tokyo) has two goals in seven caps and Musashi Suzuki (Hokkaido) will be hoping to score his first Japan goal.

Elsewhere, Southampton’s Maya Yoshida is the Japan captain. Hiroki Sakai (Marseille) and 117-cap Galatasaray full-back Yuto Nagatomo complete an experienced back-line. Ritsu Doan (PSV) is the main threat from midfield.

How can Fabian Balbuena use the international break?

Fabian Balbuena has been dropped to the bench. (Photo by Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United FC via Getty Images)

Balbuena started alongside Issa Diop in West Ham’s 5-0 loss against Manchester City on the opening day of the season. But he lost his place after that. Manuel Pellegrini has been picking Angelo Ogbonna instead of Balbuena.

The 28-year-old will be determined to wrestle back the starting jersey. His only game since the Premier League opener was in the EFL Cup against Newport County and he helped to keep a clean sheet.

But Diop and Ogbonna have since resumed their central defensive partnership and kept a clean sheet against Norwich City. Balbuena is under pressure to get back into the West Ham team, which is why this international break could help him. An impressive performance against Japan could turn Pellegrini’s head.

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