Published: Tue, July 03, 2018
Sport | By Stuart Potter

Belgium seek quarterfinal spot against underdog Japan

Belgium seek quarterfinal spot against underdog Japan

But Belgium coach Roberto Martinez isn't looking ahead to a possible quarterfinal match against either Brazil or Mexico just yet.

In contrast, Japan are playing in the knockout stage for the first time since South Africa 2010.

Jan Vertonghen gave Belgium hope in the 68th minute with an astonishing header from an acute angle as an aerial ball rebounded to him from a corner.

The Samurai Blue only reached the last 16 because they had accrued fewer yellow cards than the Lions of Tarenga. For the time-being, however, Belgium has the win in the most exciting match of the Cup so far.

Roberto Martinez brings back nearly all of his regular starters back. So a fresh Red Devils side are expected to attack from the word go against the Japanese.

Japan's team players attend an official training of Japan on the eve of the round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Sunday, July 1, 2018.

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

The Manchester United centre-forward, with four goals to his name, is just one behind Harry Kane and firmly in the race to win the Golden Boot. "His stats speak for themselves". Belgium's backups defeated England's backups in a game nobody wanted to win, and Japan held off Senegal by keeping the ball deep in their own half, then advanced via Fair Play rules. Even their goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima now plays for Metz in France, and had previously featured for Lierse SK and Standard de Liege in the Belgian top-flight league. If they can put in the sort of determined, gritty, professional display that got them through their first two games, and start to hint at an upset of one of the more fancied sides, the fans will love them again. "So I want to pay people back", Nishino promised. The Japanese will target attacking through the wings where Gaku Shibasaki will play a vital role. We have top players, we play as a group, and it is in our hands.

The mere mention of it invokes a shudder in England and in Portugal, where the loaded term came to prominence in describing the teams that won the FIFA Youth Championships in 1989 and 1991.

"We have to make a good analysis and prepare our team and decide what strategy we have for the game".

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.

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