Japan can count themselves lucky for getting a place in the Round of 16 of the World Cup. But, will the luck be on their side once again? This time they’re taking on Belgium, one of the biggest favorites for winning the trophy. Their duel between these two will take place this Monday evening at the Rostov Arena.
There aren’t many teams on this tournament that did so well in the group stage as Belgium. They won all games in the group, including the third one in which they played against England. That match is particularly interesting, as Belgium played without a number of their key players, but still managed to win all three points.
Of course, their manager Roberto Martinez will pick his best XI for the clash with Japan, as he’s probably not willing to risk anything. And his best XI are really strong. This team has at least one top-quality player in each position.
The fact that they’ve allowed only 2 goals so far shows their defensive power. That actually isn’t a big surprise considering that they have Courtois between the stands, supported by some of the best center-backs on the planet – Vermaelen, Alderweireld, and Kompany. They’re also extremely strong in the middle of the pitch, where they have Kevin De Bruyne, probably the best midfielder playing in English Premier League.
Still, their final third seems to be their most lethal weapon. Eden Hazard might be their best players, but he’s not the only forward worth mentioning. Dries Mertens is also worth the praise, as well as team’s top scorer, Romelu Lukaku. Actually, Lukaku is in the competition for the Golden Boot Award, as he has scored only one goal less than the current top scorer, Harry Kane.
Japan played in the Group of Death of the World Cup 2018, together with Colombia, Poland, and Senegal. They were considered the biggest underdogs of all teams from the Group H, but they managed to get to the knockout stage. Japan had the same number of points and the exact same goal difference as Senegal, but due to the Fair Play rule (less bookings), they finished on the second spot on the table.
But, saying that they deserve to be among the best 16 teams on the planet would be a big overstatement. They were extremely lucky to get here. First, they beat 10-men Colombia in the first round, then they played draw with Senegal, before finally losing to Poland 1:0.
And in the game against Poland they kept away from the opponent’s goal for most of the match. In fact, in the last couple of minutes of that game, Japan’s defenders were just passing the ball to one another, without any desire to attack, even though they were 1:0 down.
Even their manager admitted that their play was embarrassing – they put all their hopes into the game between Colombia and Senegal. And they were right to do so. The fact that Colombia beat Senegal meant that Japan were to go to the knockout stage. But, can they go even further than this? I think not…
Courtois – Vertonghen, Kompany, Alderweireld – Witsel, De Bruyne, Meunier, Carrasco – Hazard, Mertens, Lukaku
Kawashima – Yoshida, Shoji, Sakai, Nagatomo – Hasebe, Shibasaki, Honda, Kagawa, Inui – Okazaki
Belgium vs. Japan Match Prediction
I can’t see anything but a big Belgium win in this match. They’re a much, much better team than Japan and they’re in a great form at the moment. I just can’t see Japan stopping them from reaching the quarter final.
Belgium vs. Japan Betting Tips
- Belgium @1.36 (bet365)
- Belgium AH -1.5 @2.16 (Unibet)