Monday, 23 July, 2018

Belgium seek quarterfinal spot against underdog Japan

Belgium's Eden Hazard Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne Belgium's Eden Hazard Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne will return to the starting line-up
Sergio Cook | 03 July, 2018, 00:43

"The players are ready to get the rhythm as fast as they can". "They won against Colombia, so that is very important for us to take this (into account) and I think they played very good games".

Roberto Martinez left most of his first-choice players on the bench on Thursday against England, but still came away with a 1-0 victory to uphold their 100 per cent record in Group G. Just ask holders Germany.

It was end-to-end stuff for the final quarter of an hour.

Japan's Hidetoshi Nakata passes the challenge of Belgium's Marc Wilmots.

"It will definitely be a hard match".

At 2-2, it was a repeat of the last World Cup meeting of these teams, at the 2002 tournament in Japan.

Nishino - only appointed in April after the controversial sacking of veteran coach Vahid Halilhodzic - deserves credit for taking Japan so close against one of the finest sets of players around. "We have nothing to lose".

Lukaku has even more reason to be confident, considering the quality of service he can expect from Hazard, midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and wide forward Dries Mertens.

That said, Monday's clash will likely be Belgium's toughest test of the tournament so far.

And unlike teams like Argentina that struggled to find chemistry, Belgium have been a consistent unit throughout the past two weeks.

'And remember the Wales game, ' he said of their 3-1 Euro 2016 quarter-final loss. That team, featuring Enzo Scifo and Jan Ceulemans, would finish fourth at Mexico '86.

Both teams fought a tight midfield battle but their forwards froze in the area and Belgium's wide players, Meunier and Yannick Carrasco, did not take risks going forward, effectively turning a 3-4-3 formation into a more conservative 5-2-3 system.

How and where to watch online FIFA World Cup 2018 Belgium v/s Japan live streaming? "Two years ago we had a few injuries".

Ex-England worldwide Phil Neville described Japan and Poland's approach as "disgraceful", but coach Akira Nishino's senior players defended the tactic.

Belgium, on the other hand, still have plenty to prove. Japan drew the game against Senegal by 2-2 in the second match, and lost to Poland by 1-0 in the third match.

Nishino will have to decide whether to bring the creative trio of Kagawa, Honda and Inui, all of whom were rested against Poland in their last match, back into the side as goal-scoring chances are expected to be at a premium in the face of a mean Belgian backline.

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