Belgium take on Japan at the Rostov Arena in the round of 16 tonight, with a place against Brazil in the quarter-finals awaiting them. After sewing up their group with a 1-0 win over England, Belgium are clear favourites in this game. Japan have already overcome many critics predictions, coming through their group ahead of Poland who were hotly tipped to take the top spot so shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Belgium are led by Chelsea stand-out Eden Hazard and Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku. It’s a team filled with names you can see every win in the Premier League, and across Europe. After comfortable wins over Panama and Tunisia, Belgium got to rest 9 of their starters for the final game against England, and still came away with a 1-0 win.
Japan didn’t have things as easy in their group as they went into the final group game in third place. Despite defeat to Poland in their final group game, Senegal lost to Colombia and the Japanese team advanced based on their better disciplinary record across the three games.
Not the most inspiring way to progress, but getting out of the group will be seen as a huge achievement. Shinji Kagawa is the best known of the Japanese squad around the world. He epitomizes what the Japanese squad is all about. Hard working, fast, and quick to the ball.
What To Expect: Belgium v Japan
If we’ve learned anything from this World Cup it’s that predictions aren’t as easy as they used to be. Belgium will enter this game as huge favourites and it’s hard to see a way through for Japan. Belgium are bigger, stronger, faster and have the more skillful players throughout their squad.
Lukaku is still very much in the running for the golden boot. Expect him to look to pad his goals tally against Japan. Japan will work hard and harass and harry the Belgians all night with their impeccable work-rate. However, the quality difference is likely to be way too much. Japan will look to absorb all the Belgian pressure and look to score on the counter. Of course, this tactic has already seen us with a few upsets in this tournament, but this is Belgium’s golden generation and with so many of the big sides already on planes home, they will see this as their best chance for a World Cup trophy.
Prediction: Belgium 3-0 Japan. Setting up a tantalising quarter-final against Brazil