Japan were lucky to get through their group. They eventually finished behind Colombia. However, a 1-0 loss to Poland in their final game led to a historic seventh tie-break. Japan and Senegal’s head to head, goal difference, points were all level.
This tie-break meant that second place would be decided on fair play record during the competition. Senegal received two more yellow cards than Japan and as a result, were eliminated from the competition.
Belgium head into the game as heavy favourites. The winner of this game will face either Mexico or Brazil in the quarterfinals.
Belgium v Japan Preview
Key Men For Belgium
Belgium have one of the most talented squads in the competition. The Belgian shadow side defeated England to secure top spot of Group G. The vast majority of the Belgium team play for the top Premier League sides.
Their key man is Eden Hazard. The winger is often heralded as the best player in the Premier League. The Chelsea man can create moments of magic on his own and his dribbling and skill will likely be too much for the Japanese defence to handle.
Along with Hazard, Belgium have Manchester City assist king Kevin De Bruyne feeding Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku and Napoli attacker Dries Mertens. This attack will likely be too much for the Japanese.
Key Men For Japan
The likes of Shinji Kagawa and Kazuki Honda have played for Europe’s top clubs. However, new Real Betis signing Takashi Inui deserves a shout.
At 30 years of age, the attacking midfielder has spent the vast majority of his career at midtable La Liga and Bundesliga sides. The attacker has one goal and one assist in this tournament. If the Japanese are to pull off a shock, it will likely stem from Inui.
Belgium’s attack will blow Japan away. Unfortunately, there is no other likely outcome. On top of their attack, Belgium have a world-class centre-back pairing in Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld and possibly Vincent Kompany.
Meanwhile, the Belgium midfield will likely overpower the Japanese midfield as well. There really is no area of the pitch were Japan can match their European opponents.
Prediction: Belgium 4 Japan 0
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