Belgium vs Japan: The 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup has been a roller-coaster. After Argentina and Portugal, Spain failed to make it to the next round. Belgium vs Japan also is also one such bout where the title contenders will be challenged by a lower ranked team. And it certainly has been the tournament of the underdogs. Belgium were one of the three teams to go advance to the round of 16 unscathed. With 4 footballing giants already out of the Cup, Belgium will fancy their chances of going all the way. However, it’s a little too early to call considering how mercurial the tournament’s form has been. Fantasy football team, insights and stats for Belgium vs Japan are drafted here.
WHEN: July 2nd, 11:30 PM, IST
WHERE: Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don.
JOURNEY TO THE ROUND OF 16
- Took the first game comfortably. A 3-0 win against Panama
- Tunisia were clobbered by ‘The Red Devils’. A 7 goal thriller finishing in Belgium’s favour. 5-2
- As many as 8 changes were made by Roberto Martinez against England but that didn’t change the result. Adnan Janzaj’s strike taking them home. 1-0 in the final group game.
- Beat group favourites Colombia 2-1.
- The Senegal game finished on parity. 2-2 the scoreline read.
- Lost the final group game 0-1 but qualified for the knockouts for good discipline(lesser yellow cards as compared to Senegal)
8 changes were made in the game against England and all of them will be added to the squad for the knockout game. Vincent Kompany’s recovery will mean he’ll be partnering Alderweireld and Vertonghen at the back.
Japan will field the same eleven that started the game against Poland.
EXPECTED PLAYING XI
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois
Defenders: Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld
Midfielders: Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco, Thomas Meunier, Dries Mertens
Strikers: Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku
Goalkeeper: Eiji Kawashima
Defenders: Hiroki Sakai, Maya Yoshida, Gen Shoji, Yuto Nagatomo
Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe, Gaku Shibasaki, Genki Haraguchi, Shinji Kagawa, Takashi Inui
Strikers: Yuya Osako
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Japan have only lost one fixture of the 5 played between these two sides. They’ve won 2 and drawn 2. The last time these two teams met, Lukaku’s goal turned out to the winner.
The only time they met at the World Cup was back in 2002. The game ended in a 2-2 draw.
This will be Belgium 6th time in the knockout stages in their last seven participations. They’ve reached the quarter-finals only twice though. In 1986 & in 2014.
Belgium are unbeaten in their last 22 games. They’ve won 17 and drawn 5 in the process. Their last defeat; 0-2 against Spain in September 2016.
Japan have never made it past the round of 16. They’ve reached the last 16 thrice. In 2002, 2010 & 2018.
Romelu Lukaku has been in red-hot form and his numbers over the last 20 games have been staggering. He’s scored 23 goals, 4 in this World cup and has scored with his left foot, right foot and his head.
Belgium are clear favourites for this fixture but with the crests and troughs this tournament has been able to create, a Japanese victory isn’t off the radar. If Japan can hold the Belgian playmakers for 120 minutes and take the game to the penalties they have a massive chance. That being said, Belgium are a far more superior side and are an in-form unit. They are likely to go through. My prediction, Belgium 2-0.
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Also, check out our previous match previews.
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