Belgium vs Japan
Belgium is probably one of very few nations that showed pretty much impressive football so far in the group stage. Alongside Croatia and Uruguay, they are the only one to have ended the group stage with maximum nine points. Moreover they are the side with most goals scored so far - also nine.
The side won easily over Panama 3:0 and Tunisia 5:2 in first two rounds, while they showed some desire in third round as well. It was a game without much of competitive motive as both Belgium and England have progressed further. Despite many speculations who will want to go to which part of the draw, Belgium didn't stop there.
Both nations have rotated their squad for this game and it seems that the Beglium found their rhythm much better in that way. The game itself wasn't very impressive, but the Belgium was better no question about that. Januzaj scored the only goal in 51st minute, leaving no real way for the English side to respond.
Lukaku should lead their attack with Mertens and Hazard as offensive support. Formation should be 3-4-2-1 version. Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku had some problems, but no doubt that they will be fit in time to play here.
Overall Japan was very lucky to reach the knockout phase in Russia. They had plenty of luck to have won against Colombia as they have penalty and man more since third minute of the match managing to get the victory here. Together with a draw against Senegal in a game where they did look like a weaker opponent, it turned out to be enough for the qualification.
Even though they needed something out of the clash against Poland in order to be sure to qualify or a victory in order to surely get the first position and maybe easier opponent, Japan failed to obtain positive result against Poland suffering 1:0 defeat.
They were more concrete in the first halftime and maybe had chance to take the lead. However, Bednarek scored the only goal in 59th minute in generally passive game and the Japanese failed to do something more in order to threaten later on. Bit disappointing defeat for the side that could have ended first, but no doubt that the Japanese are aware of their quality and that it won't trouble them much.
Osako should lead their attack alone at the top. Haraguchi, Kagawa and Inui should be employed as offesnive midfielder. Formation remains 4-2-3-1. They have no fresh injury worries ahead of this one.
- Belgium have won their last 7 matches (FIFA World Cup).
Belgium is a side that maybe even showed the most so far. However, there's plenty of more to be seen from them - while it wouldn't be unfair to say that Japanese is surely one of the weakest remaining teams in the competition. I expect Belgium to attack from start and score early, something that should make the game easier for them. As soon as Japanese try to do something more in this one, they will be in plenty of danger to suffer heavy defeat.
Belgium vs Japan prediction
Belgium -1.5 Asian handicap @ 2.32 with Pinnacle