Confident Belgium wary of Japan threat

03 July, 2018, 00:44 | Author: Judy Cobb
  • Eden Hazard of Belgium during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between England and Belgium

Japan got closest to a goal in a boring first half when Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois let the ball slip from his hands and between his legs but recovered before it crossed the line. The controversies of the group stage were erased.

However, he refused to look past Japan towards a potential quarter-final against Mexico or Brazil.

"We can't prepare for that [the penalty shootout], as mental approach means much..."

"We need to be very serious and focused right from the beginning of the game".

The victor of the Belgium-England match would take Group G and while there were strong arguments as to why perhaps winning for either side wasn't important due to future draws, Belgium got the job done as it won 1-0.Adrian Januzaj scored the game's lone goal on a blast in the 51st minute. "I don't think there will be big surprises when we face each other", Martinez had said on the eve of the match.

"I'm a neutral figure", Martinez said last week.

Here are the possible players who can be part of Japan team today. And the ones who were rested are waiting to get back on the pitch. My image of Belgium is their three full-backs and two defensive midfielders, and two very attacking wingers. They lost in the last eight at Euro 2016 when a run to the final could have been on the cards, and at the last World Cup a younger version of this side were considered one of the dark horses.

"We have been here twice in the past in round of 16 but this is different, we haven't exhausted ourselves yet so we can create a new opportunity", Nishino told a news conference on Sunday. Any of them. But, says Roberto Martinez, that's been the advantage of coaching the Belgians, to whom he speaks "the language of football". Keisuke Honda became Japan's first player to score at three World Cup's and he could be vital coming off the bench if Japan manage to stretch the game.

Despite the odds heavily favouring them, Martinez is not willing to take the Asian side lightly. But they haven't truly established themselves as a burgeoning power since then, with their loss to Wales at the Euros becoming emblematic of this generation's Belgium: a supremely talented squad that can't be relied upon when it counts.

"We have a lot of respect for this team, and we don't think we are going to win this one easily".

Hazard will be instrumental to Belgium's hopes of progressing, and he knows it is a case of seizing the moment.

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