Belgium are on a 22-match unbeaten run, which started with a 3-0 win over Cyprus in September 2016, but they risk being run aground by a hardworking and efficient Japanese team.
The Belgians with a very talented side led by Eden Hazard have been outrun by just one of the countries they faced in the group stage – England.
They have covered 312Km as compared to 289Km for Japan.
Head to head
Tue 14/11/17 FRI Belgium 1 – 0 Japan
Tue 19/11/13 FRI Belgium 2 – 3 Japan
Sun 31/05/09 KIC Japan 4 – 0 Belgium
Tue 04/06/02 WOC Japan 2 – 2 Belgium
Wed 02/06/99 FRI Japan 0 – 0 Belgium
Current Form [Last 5 matches]
Three duels to watch
Romelu Lukaku v Maya Yoshida
The forward and the defender have met previously in the EPL and that should serve as a warning to Yoshida because the supply chain that Belgium possess is much better than the one at Manchester United.
Kevin De Bruyne v Gaku Shibasaki
De Bruyne is yet to really stand up and dictate the show for Belgium in Russia while Shibasaki has been at the forefront of the Japanese press by ensuring no gaps develops behind the forwards.
Dedrick Boyata v Yuya Osako
Osaka, with two goals, is a threat aerially and on the ground, which means Roberto Martinez must plan to give Boyata cover so that Osako does not create one-on-one situations.
Referee in charge: The 45-year-old Malang Diedhiou will be in charge and there are already conspiracy theories concerning this appointment. He has officiated two matches at Russia 2018, his first World Cup, and showed seven yellow cards and one red in the matches he has handled.
WORLD CUP FACT: In all of World Cup history, only two teams from Asia went beyond the Round of 16.
Prediction: Belgium 2-1 Japan
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