After winning the game their manager said they didn’t really want to, Belgium face Japan in the last 16 of the World Cup. The Red Devils are now in the tougher half of the draw, with Brazil the likely quarter-final opponents for the winner of this game.
Where and when: Rostov Arena – 2 July, kick-off 7pm
Where you can see Belgium vs. Japan: BBC
Last time: Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal of the game when the countries played a friendly in November of last year.
|Lukaku to score first||12/5||Offer|
|Belgium to win to nil||11/10||Offer|
|Belgium to win 4-1||17/1||Offer|
Belgium v Japan Predictions and Preview
Victory over England and top spot in Group G was viewed as something of a poisoned chalice for Belgium, not least by their manager Roberto Martinez – who claimed on the day of the game that winning was not the priority. Japan meanwhile stumbled through to the knockout rounds after a promising opening fixture.
The Samurai Blue’s victory over Colombia was certainly aided by the fact their opponents played with 10 men for 87 minutes of the match, but a win’s a win at the World Cup. Akira Nishino’s side showed character to fight back twice against Senegal and claim a draw, although a more unpleasant side of their character was revealed against Poland.
In the last 15 minutes of their final group game, Japan knew that Colombia were beating Senegal and they were through on their fair play record as things stood. Not wishing to jeopardise that – and ignoring the fact that they’d be out if Senegal equalised – they passed the ball around the back with little challenge from a Polish side who were happy to claim a 1-0 victory after a disappointing time in Russia.
Japan are 9/1 for the victory in 90 minutes here, while Belgium are 4/9. The Red Devils’ game against England had the same potential to descend into farce, but Adnan Januzaj’s delicious goal showed that the players given the chance to start were keen to impress.
There was still a testimonial feel to the match at times, with sweeping changes to both line-ups. Time will tell whether beating the Three Lions will come back to haunt Belgium, but their first team stars who come back into the XI will fancy their chances of dishing out a beating to a relatively poor Japan side.
The Samurai Blue have experienced players like Makoto Hasebe, Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki in their squad, but they will be no match for the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens.
Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku has been nursing an ankle problem, but he’s expected to start the game. Belgium are 1/5 to qualify for the quarter-finals, while Japan are 9/2.
One to watch for Belgium: Romelu Lukaku is in the hunt for the Golden Boot at this World Cup, and he’ll be looking to add to his tally against a Japan side who he’ll feel he can bully. He is 12/5 to score first, and 7/1 to score two or more.
One to watch for Japan: Yuya Osako leads the line for the Samurai Blue ahead of 116-cap Leicester City striker Shinji Okazaki, who has 50 goals for his country. Osako has scored once so far this summer, and he’s 7/1 to open the scoring here.
Long shot: Belgium have the ability to really punish Japan in this game, especially if the Asian side put in the kind of performance they did against Poland. Belgium are 17/1 to win this game 4-0.