Belgium vs Japan Preview

Source: The Coverage

Belgium have had a great World Cup so far and so have Japan, who have caught the eyes of few. Belgium and Japan face off against each other in the round of 16 of what has been a World Cup of upsets. Portugal, Argentina, Germany and now Spain have been knocked out of the competition. Belgium have been in red hot form free scoring in throughout the tournament. Japan on the other hand, have surprised all by playing some fearless and quality football.

Possible Line-Ups:

Belgium

Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois
The Chelsea goalkeeper has had quite less to do throughout the tournament and he should expect an easy clean sheet.

Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (CB), Vincent Kompany (CB), Jan Vertonghen (CB)
The defensive three of Alderweireld, Kompany and Vertonghen are expected to retain their starting spots. We shouldn’t expect any reshuffles given the current scenario of giant killings.

Midfielders: Thomas Meunier (RWB), Kevin De Bruyne (CM), Axel Witsel (CM), Yannick Carrasco (LWB)
 Belgium had a major midfield reshuffle against England but, Martinez is expected to start his main midfieldes. De Bruyne and Witsel are expected to start in central midfield as they offer creativity, strength and control. De Bruyne hasn’t gone forward that much in the competition but his ability to control the game from the deep end will be crucial. Meunier and Carrasco are expected to retain their starting places.

Attacking Midfielders: Dries Mertens (LAM), Eden Hazard (RAM)
Martinez started Januzaj and Fellaini against England but is expected to start his dynamic duo of Mertens and Hazard in the round of 16. Mertens has been a key influence and the talisman of the Belgium squad and expected to reprise his role of counter attacking and creating chances.
Attack: Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku is fit again and should start as the lone striker for the team. He is in great form and has benefited with the quality passes he gets from his teammates. He is also in contention with Harry Kane to win the Golden Boot with Ronaldo and Costa out of the World Cup.

Japan

Goalkeeper: Eiji Kawashima
Japan have started Kawashima who has been quite consistent throughout the tournament despite not earning a clean sheet. He should start.

Defenders: Hiroki Sakai (RB), Maya Yoshida (CB), Gen Shoji (CB), Yuto Nagatomo (LB)
Japan should field the same defence of Sakai, Yoshida, Shoji and Nagatomo, who all have started from the first round and have been consistent so far.

Midfielders: Gaku Shibasaki (CDM), Makato Hasebe (CDM), Genki Haraguchi (LM), Takashi Inui (RM), Shinji Kagawa (CAM).
The Japanese midfield Is the most important area for the side. It has been the area which is their strongest and most creative. Inui has been great in the World Cup and Kagawa, who has good amount of experience from the Premier League and Bundesliga will provide a threat to the opposition. They also have Keisuke Honda who has been the impact player and a super sub to add to the firepower.

Attack: Yuya Osako
Osako has been starting for Japan do far in the tournament and has been good going forward. He will have to play the game of his life if he has any chance of breaking of the best defences in the tournament. Shinji Okazaki is also available of the bench.

Score Prediction:
4-1 Belgium to win and qualify for the quarter finals

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