By Thomas Reynolds
Last Updated: 2nd July 2018
Monday 2nd July
Stadium: Okritie Arena Moscow
Live on BBC1
Belgium vs Japan odds
The Belgium vs Japan odds have Roberto Martinez’s men as overwhelming 1/6 favourites to book a quarter final place at the expense of the Blue Samurai, who are 7/2 to progress.
Akira Nishino’s side are also heavy underdogs in the 90 minutes betting at 13/2, with the land of Tintin and Jacques Brel 2/5 to handle their business during regulation time and the draw 7/2.
Belgium vs Japan team news
Belgium made nine changes in their 1-0 win over England, virtually fielding a second string XI. Reserves Adnan Januzaj, Michy Batshuayi and Marouane Fellaini all made starts as Roberto Martinez rested his key players.
The odds are though that most of these players won’t be seeing much more game-time from now on after failing to make an impact.
Their best players Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard will return and Vincent Kompany – who was a substitute against England – could start ahead of Dedrick Boyata.
Japan will need to be at their very best if they are to stand a chance of progressing beyond the last 16 and to their first ever quarter finals.
The Samurai Blue tested a more rigid 4-4-2 formation in the 1-0 defeat against Poland, and may revert to the 4-2-3-1 formation utilised more successfully against Colombia and Senegal.
Japan will look to unleash the attacking threat of midfielders Shinji Kagawa, Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inu, whereas Keisuke Honda is likely to have a part to play at some point following his late goal against Senegal.
The odds are Leicester forward Shinji Okazaki will miss out an ankle injury.
Both teams have number of players that are one booking away from suspension. For Belgium, Kevin De Bruyne, Leander Dendoncker, Youri Tielemans Thomas Meunier and Jan Vertonghen are all one booking away from missing the quarter finals. Japan’s Tomoaki Makino, Hasebe, Kawashima, and Takashi Inui are also at risk.
Roberto Martinez said: “I think there is a belief; we’ve been undefeated for a long long time.”
Belgium vs Japan match stats
The Red Devils have won just one of their five past encounters with Japan (D2 L2), although that 1-0 success came in most the sides’ most recent clash, in November 2017.
Belgium have never kept a clean sheet in 11 previous World Cup knockout games, losing eight of them (W2 D1). Five of their last nine went to extra-time, but only one went to penalties.
Martinez’s side scored more than any other team in this year’s World Cup group stage (nine) and were also one of three nations to win all three of their games.
Japan have scored in only one of their last six World Cup clashes with European opponents (W1 D2 L3). A Belgium win to nil can be backed at odds of 21/20.
Belgium vs Japan key players to watch
Romelu Lukaku has scored 23 goals in 20 outings for current Belgium boss Martinez, netting with each of four shots on target in the tournament. Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo, were the only players in the groups to bag with their right foot, left foot and head.
The Manchester United man will be well-rested after taking in his country’s final group game from the bench and he is an odds-on 10/11 shot to score at anytime during the 90 minutes of this round of 16 tussle.
Dating back to 2010, Keisuke Honda has scored (four) or assisted (three) seven of Japan’s last ten World Cup goals. He has one goal of each already at the 2018 tournament, despite playing only 38 minutes. Last scorer odds of 11/1 could look inviting should the Pachuca striker enter the fray from the bench.
Yoshida Maya has completed 217 passes, the eighth most at the World Cup so far.