Belgium vs Japan Predictions, Betting Tips and Match Previews
Belgium vs Japan predictions for this Monday’s World Cup last 16 clash as the only remaining Asian side aim to upset Roberto Martinez’s Red Devils. Read on for our free betting tips and predictions.
Reason For Belgium vs Japan Betting Tips
Japan may be through to the last 16 but they remain the rank outsiders to win the tournament and it would be a massive upset if they beat Belgium here. The Red Devils will expect to progress to the last eight and it may only be then when we get a real idea of whether Belgium are genuine contenders or are going to come up short against the other elite teams.
On paper they’ve been very impressive under Roberto Martinez, unbeaten since a friendly defeat to Spain in his very first game in charge almost two years ago. However they’ve opted to avoid playing the big teams in friendlies, came through a relatively weak qualifying group and three games into the 2018 World Cup, we are still not really any wiser as to how they will shape up against the top sides.
Easy wins over Panama and Tunisia followed what was little more than a ‘B Team’ game against England which will have taught Martinez little he didn’t already know. The same could well be the case here with Belgium vastly superior on paper and with a host of players to bring back in to the side with fresh legs.
Japan’s progress to the last sixteen was perhaps the least glorious in the history of the competition. Their only group win came against a Colombian side that played with 10 men for 87 minutes. They ultimately advanced thanks to a superior Fair Play record to Senegal, with a farcical end to their final game with Poland effectively seeing Japan avoid yellow cards and settle for a 1-0 defeat in the hope that Senegal wouldn’t level against Colombia.
It was a gamble that paid off but coach Akira Nishino can’t be proud of how his side progressed and there’s more than an element of irony that they made it through on Fair Play, whilst at the same time arguably bringing the game and even the entire tournament into disrepute. You can understand it to some extent but it speaks volumes that Nishino had more faith in Colombia seeing off Senegal than in his own team’s chances of scoring a goal that would have guaranteed progress against an underwhelming Poland side.
It’s hard to make any sort of case for Japan here. They’ve lost their last 5 matches against European opposition, one of which was a friendly with Belgium last year. To give them a bit of credit, they performed pretty well in their second group game against Senegal and played some decent football but against a side of Belgium’s quality, they are likely to fall short in all departments.
The Belgians were the top scorers in the group stage, rattling in 9 goals and Romelu Lukaku will be licking his lips at the prospect of a last sixteen tie with Japan. It offers him a chance to move top of the Golden Boot standings and the big striker should be able to win any physical tussles against the Japanese defence. With 7 goals in his last 4 internationals, backing Lukaku to score anytime appeals here.
The same goes for backing Belgium -1 Handicap. They are masters in the art of putting considerably weaker teams to the sword and prior to the non-event that was the England match, they’d won four straight matches by 3 goal margins, all against sides at this World Cup while they averaged 4.3 goals per game in qualifying, the joint best record in Europe.
Belgium Predicted Lineup: Courtois, Alderweireld, Boyata, Vertonghen, Carrasco, Witsel, De Bruyne, Meunier, Hazard, Mertens, Lukaku
Japan Predicted Lineup: Kawashima, Sakai, Shoji, Yoshida, Nagatomo, Hasebe, Shibasaki, Inui, Kagawa, Haraguchi, Osako
Head to Head
Japan have won 2 of the last 3 meetings including a thumping 4-0 friendly win 2009. Belgium have improved considerably since then though and were 1-0 winners when the sides met last November in another friendly. The last competitive meeting was a 2-2 draw at the 2002 World Cup.
Belgium Team News
Belgium are hoping to have key men Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku fit again to start here. There will be wholesale changes, despite the win over England.
Japan Team News
Japan made a surprising number of changes in their last game given they weren't through going into it. The likes of Shinji Kagawa, Takashi Inui, Yuya Osako and Mateo Hasebe stand a good chance of returning here.
Next Fixtures To Kick Off
Belgium vs Japan Stats
- Belgium have reached the knockout stages of the World Cup for the sixth time in their last seven participations, the only exception coming in 1998. They will be looking to reach the quarter-finals for the third time in their history after 1986 and 2014.
- Belgium scored more goals than any other team in this year’s World Cup group stages (9). They were also one of three teams to win all three of their games (with Croatia and Uruguay).
- Belgium are unbeaten in their last 22 games (W17 D5), their last defeat dating back to September 2016 against Spain (0-2). As of the end of the group stages, only Spain were on a longer run amongst the 32 teams at the 2018 World Cup (23 games).
- Since making their World Cup debut in 1998, Japan have alternated between getting knocked out in the group stages (1998, 2006, 2014) and reaching the round of 16 (2002, 2010, 2018). They have so far never made it past the last 16.
- Japan’s two previous knockout games at the World Cup have produced only one goal, for Turkey in 2002 (0-1). The other game ended 0-0 after extra-time against Paraguay in 2010 with Japan losing 5-3 on penalties.
- Romelu Lukaku has scored 23 goals in 20 appearances for Belgium under manager Roberto Martinez, scoring four goals from four shots on target at this year’s World Cup. Alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, he was the only player in the group stages to score with his right foot, left foot and head.
- Since 2010, Keisuke Honda has scored (4) or assisted (3) seven of Japan’s last 10 goals at the World Cup. He has one goal and one assist to his name at the 2018 tournament, despite playing only 38 minutes.
Published: July 2, 2018
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