Japan could be through to the last 16 but they stay the rank outsiders to win the tournament and it might be a massive mad if they beat Belgium here. The Red Devils will expect to advance to the last eight plus it may just be then if we get a true idea of whether Belgium are genuine contenders or are going to come up against the other elite groups.
On paper they have been really impressive under Roberto Martinez, unbeaten because a favorable defeat to Spain in his very first match in charge nearly two decades back. However they have chosen to avoid playing with the big teams in friendlies, came via a relatively feeble qualifying group and three matches into the 2018 World Cup, we’re not really any wiser as to how they will shape up against the top sides.
Easy wins over Panama and Tunisia followed what was little more than a’B’ Team’ match against England which will have educated Martinez small he didn’t already know. The same could well be the situation with Belgium enormously superior on paper and with a plethora of players to bring back into the side with fresh legs.
Japan’s progress to the last sixteen was possibly the least glorious in the history of this contest. Their sole group win came from a Colombian side that performed with 10 men for 87 minutes. They finally advanced thanks to some superior Fair Perform album to Senegal, using a farcical end to their final game with Poland effectively seeing Japan prevent yellow cards and settle for a 1-0 defeat in the expectation that Senegal wouldn’t level against Colombia.
It was a bet that paid off but trainer Akira Nishino can not be proud of how his side improved and there’s over an element of irony they made it through on Fair Play, whilst at precisely the identical time arguably bringing the match and even the entire tournament into disrepute. You may understand this to some extent but it speaks volumes which Nishino had more religion in Colombia watching off Senegal than in his own team’s chances of accomplishing a goal that could have ensured advancement against an underwhelming Poland side.
It is hard to make any kind of case for Japan here. They’ve lost their last five matches against European resistance, one of which was a favorable with Belgium this past year. To give them a little credit, they played pretty well in their second group game against Senegal and played some good football but contrary to a side of Belgium’s quality, they’re very likely to fall short in most sections.
The Belgians were the top scorers in the group stage, rattling in 9 goals and Romelu Lukaku will be licking his lips at the prospect of a final sixteen tie with Japan. It offers him a chance to move top of the Golden Boot standings along with the big striker needs to be in a position to win any physical tussles from the Japanese defence. With 7 goals in his last 4 internationals, financing Lukaku to score anytime stinks .
The same goes for financing Belgium -1 Handicap. They are masters in the art of placing considerably poorer teams into the sword and before the non-event which has been the England game, they had won four consecutive matches with 3 goal margins, all against sides in this World Cup while they averaged 4.3 goals per match in qualifying, the combined best album in Europe.
Belgium Predicted Lineup: Courtois, Alderweireld, Boyata, Vertonghen, Carrasco, Witsel, De Bruyne, Meunier, Hazard, Mertens, Lukaku
Japan Predicted Lineup: Kawashima, Sakai, Shoji, Yoshida, Nagatomo, Hasebe, Shibasaki, Inui, Kagawa, Haraguchi, Osako
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