Preview - Belgium vs Japan 03 July 18

Started by Harry85, Jul 02, 2018, 02:14 PM

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World Cup Last 16
Belgium vs Japan
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018
03:00am, (GMT +8 Timing)
Stadium: Rostov Arena

Last five matches form: W W W W W
Average goals per match last ten: 2.80
Average goals against per match last ten: 0.60
Top Scorer: Romelu Lukaku (40)

Last five matches form: L W W D L
Average goals per match last ten: 1.30
Average goals against per match last ten: 1.80
Top Scorer: Shinji Okazaki (50)

Belgium and Japan clash for the sixth time in their history in this round of 16 matchup. Japan lead the head to head so far, with two wins to Belgium's one. It is Belgium who are widely expected to come through this encounter though as they have been much the better side over the past year.

At least on paper this looks to be one of the more one sided of the round of 16 clashes. Belgium have been excellent in winning all three group games - a run which has extended their unbeaten sequence to an impressive 22 games. Japan meanwhile have shown good battling qualities at times, but only scraped through on the fair play rule having beaten ten-man Colombia, drawn with Senegal and lost to already eliminated Poland.

Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku are expected to make the starting line-up, but neither have been confirmed as definite starters following slight injury complaints. The absence of either or both would be a blow to the red Devils chances.

Having started with their reserve players in that win over England last time out, Belgium's first choice eleven should be well rested and itching to get back into action here.

Japan rejigged their starting eleven for that clash with Poland last time out, a decision which very nearly proved costly. We expect them to return to the line-up which defeated Colombia in the opening round here.

It's a comfortable win for Roberto Martinez's men for us here.

Prediction: Belgium 4 - 0 Japan


Half time: 0 - 0
Full time: 3 - 2
Shots: 20 - 11
Shots on target: 11 - 6
Corner Kicks: 10 - 6
Possession: 57% - 43%

Just the one booking in this one with Japan's Gaku Shibasaki having his name taken by referee Malang Diedhiou.

Anticipated to be a comfortable evening for Belgium against the rank outsiders of those left in the competition turned out to be anything but as Japan put up the performance of their lives.

It soon became clear that Roberto Martinez's men were going to have to work hard to progress here as Japan opted for a high pressing game that simply never allowed Belgium to get into a rhythm.

Both sides came fairly close in the opening period. Lukaku fluffing his lines from close range for Belgium and Thibaut Courtois avoiding a near catastrophe when struggling to deal with a tame shot. 0-0 at the break.

Good in the first half, Japan were even better at the start of the second. Gaku Shibasaki splitting the Belgian defence in two with a brilliant through ball. Genki Haraguchi delaying his effort before firing across goal into the bottom left corner in the 48th minute.

Four minutes later Japan were in dreamland. Takashi Inui - who was excellent throughout - picking the ball up around 25 yards from goal and smashing a bullet shot into the bottom right corner.

By the end of this match though Japan's dream was to be dashed in devastating style.

First in the 69th minute Jan Vertonghen looped a header from the left-hand side of the penalty area tight to the goal line. Whether he meant it or not, it ballooned over everyone and dropped into the far corner. Lifeline for Belgium.

Then just five minutes later the Red Devils were level. Excellent skill from Eden Hazard on the right before putting in a cross that found Marouane Fellaini rising highest to do what he does best and heading home.

Then just as we looked to be headed into extra time in the 94th minute Belgium broke on the counter following the breakdown of a Japanese corner. De Bruyne powering through midfield to play in Thomas Meunier on the left whose low centre was met by Nacer Chadli at the far post to side foot home.

Belgium make it through then in the end to set up a mouth watering quarter final tie with Brazil. Whoever comes out on top in that one will likely be favourites to win it all.

Japan meanwhile can head home with their heads held high on the back of this high energy, high quality display.

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