Belgium Vs Japan Preview: Can the Eden Hazard-led 'golden generation' continue their fine run?
Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar
The Red Devils seem to be finally living up to their promise but the resilient Blue Samurai could potentially cause an upset.
Belgium looks to be an unstoppable freight-train in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where they've easily overwhelmed their opponents and will look to do the same to wounded Japan. Belgium were extremely dominant in their group and seem to have a very well-gelled unit, who have proven to be absolutely destructive going forward. The story of Japan is quite topsy-turvy, as they have shown a lot of heart but barely managed to qualify for the knockout rounds.
It will understandably be a case of attack vs defence, but Japan has proven that if cornered, they can bite back as well. Belgium might go into the game as overwhelming favourites but will need to be wary of the threat of unpredictable Japan.
About The Teams.
Belgium were arguably the strongest side in the Group stages of the tournament, mostly because of how easily they dominated the teams they were up against. After easily dispatching Tunisia and Panama, Belgium played really well against England despite fielding a reserve team.
Belgium actually play a very attacking game and their formation is designed for that, with the threats from wings and the middle proving to be too overwhelming for teams. While they need to be defensively stronger going forward, Belgium have some world-class attacking talent that can put any team to the sword and Japan need to be careful or risk suffering a very humiliating exit from the World Cup.
It was a rather weird Group stages for Japan, who surprised many by defeating Colombia in their first match. They showed unbridled determination against both Colombia and Senegal, but lost all the momentum in the dull defeat to Poland. While that was mostly because of the circumstances, Japan will definitely be a completely different team against Belgium and play their hearts out.
They will have to be full of energy and need to show intelligence if they're to stop the Belgium attackers from causing problems. There needs to be an utter discipline in their game, and it's widely known how well Japan can play as a unit. Japan will hope to make the whole Asia proud by playing their hearts out against Belgium and knowing this tournament's knack for pulling off "surprises", one more could unfold on Monday.
The match will take place in the beautiful Rostov Arena, which has the capacity to hold a hefty 45,000 spectators to cheer on their teams.
Japan: Kawashima, Sakai, Yoshida, Shoji, Nagatomo, Shibasaki, Hasei, Inui, Kagawa, Haraguchi, Osako.
What To Expect:
Belgium's "golden trio" of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens has been absolutely ruthless so far, scoring 7 out of Belgium's 9 goals in the group stages. They seem to be absolutely unstoppable and with the creativity of Kevin De Bruyne pulling the strings for them, it's near-impossible to contain Belgium's attacking talent.
The Red Devils also have the likes of Thomas Meunier and Yannick Carrasco to add to the attacking talent and will definitely be defensively stronger with captain Vincent Kompany back in the starting lineup.
Japan will have to hope that lady luck does some favors for them against Belgium, but will need goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima to be on top form. Kawashima will need to be alert to stop all the attacks barging in and will need his defense to be tight and impenetrable as well.
The Asians will also rely on Shinji Kagawa and Yuya Osako to create and finish off the little chances they get in the game if they're to attain a surprise victory on the day.
Khel Now Predicts.
Belgium 3-1 Japan
Published: Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:26 AM IST