Belgium vs Japan
Competition: 2018 World Cup finals
Date: 2 July 2018
Kick-off: 20:00 CET
Belgium were second in their group when their game against England got under way. If they had… made sure to keep it like that, they would have, theoretically, an easier “path” to the final of the competition. By beating England 1-0 and finishing first in their group, they did get Japan in the round of 16, but, most probably, Brazil in the quarterfinals. They are one of the three teams that finished the group stage on nine points. Plus, they scored more than any other team, nine goals. Romelu Lukaku is back, having recovered from a slight injury that kept him out of the game versus England. Coach Roberto Martínez rested most of his regulars, also avoiding any unnecessary yellow cards.
Japan dropped the ball against Poland, one of the poorest teams in these World Cup finals, lost 1-0, but got… saved by Colombia, who beat Senegal, “taking” Japan with them to the round of 16. Actually, Japan qualified because they received less yellow cards than Senegal in their three group matches. In the dying minutes of their game versus Poland it was obvious they were doing everything necessary to avoid receiving a yellow card, not really trying to score, equalize, get a point. The Japanese have already met their main target, qualify for the last 16. As they have said several times these last days, at this point, they’ve got nothing to lose. Whatever lands on their laps from now on, will be a very welcome bonus. No stress, no pressure, especially against one of the best, if not THE best team of the finals thus far.
Previous five matches:
England vs Belgium 0-1
Belgium vs Tunisia 5-2
Belgium vs Panama 3-0
Belgium vs Costa Rica 4-1
Belgium vs Egypt 3-0
Japan vs Poland 0-1
Japan vs Senegal 2-2
Colombia vs Japan 1-2
Japan vs Paraguay 4-2
Switzerland vs Japan 2-0
The winner of this game will face the winner of Brazil vs Mexico in the quarterfinals.
Belgium vs Japan: Head to head Stats
Belgium and Japan have met five times in the past, and interestingly, the Belgians have won just once. Four games were friendlies, and only one in World Cup finals, in 2002, a 2-2 draw in the group stage, one of the two draws between these two. Japan have won two matches. Total goals, 9-5 for Japan.
Belgium vs Japan: Prediction
Any other result but a Belgium win will be a major-major surprise.
Belgium vs Japan: Betting Tips
A simple Belgium victory pays 1.40. The Japanese seem willing to… play football, not “park a bus” in front of their goal, so I feel “over 2.5 goals”, at 1.95, has good chances of coming good. “Belgium and over 2.5 goals” is at 2.25, a bet I like a lot in this game.