The first key matchup of week 4 will be between Japan and Samoa.
Both teams have a solid chance of getting to the quarter-finals and the winner of this game will be in a far stronger position to get there.
The loser will likely be out of the tournament and only be playing for a mathematical outside chance for a quarter-final spot and their own pride.
Japan has been a fairy tale story in the last two World Cups. In 2015 they had a historic victory against South Africa, and in 2019 they beat Ireland! Since then they have had numerous ups and downs and inconsistent results.
They have strong domestic competition and the Japanese professional league is a superb breeding ground for top Japanese players. Without this in place, they wouldn’t have been a contender.
Samoa on the other hand has a team packed with superstars; unfortunately, they aren’t yet behaving like a cohesive team. Their lack of game time as a team against strong opposition is one of their major drawbacks. They have many players playing in Europe and a few in Super Rugby.
Yet, in spite of this, they have only played as a team on rare occasions, which has made it difficult for this group of amazing athletes to reach their full potential as a team.
I hope to be proven wrong but I believe that Japan will probably be victorious and this will indeed set up an interesting week of clashes.