Japan vs. Belgium
|Date & Time||Monday July 2, 2018, 2:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Belgium -258 / Japan +946 / Draw +391 -- Over/Under: 2.5
Belgium and Japan meet Monday in World Cup soccer action at the Rostov Arena.
Belgium has been one of the more impressive teams this tournament, as it swept its group with wins over Panama, Tunisia and England. Belgium has scored nine goals and has a goal differential of +7, both are currently the best of any team in the tournament. The Red Devils are simply flexing their muscle offensively and showing just how skilled they are with the ball. While most teams in this tournament have one or two players who can make a difference, Belgium has many players who can find the back of the net and has five players on its current squad with double-digit international goals. Keep in mind that there’s going to be a rested Romelu Lukaku for this match, as he sat out the meeting against England. There’s a lot to like about the form of Belgium right now and just how explosive this club has been in three matches. Belgium hopes to make the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
Japan was one of the bigger surprises of the tournament, as it produced a win over Colombia, a draw against Senegal and a loss to Poland. Japan entered this tournament in extremely questionable form following a coaching change and not much support from the fanbase. It seemed like the sky was falling for the Samurai Blue, but here this team is in the round of 16 of the World Cup for the third time in its last five appearances. Japan has controlled the possession arrow in all three of its matches and has shown an improved offensive attack as of late. Keep in mind this was a Japan side that couldn’t score in a home match against Gahana a couple of months ago. There seems to be life with Japan all of a sudden, which makes this an interesting team entering the knockout stages. Japan has a chance to make the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the first time.
Japan and Belgium met last November in a friendly, a match Belgium won 1-0. The match was decided on a late goal from Romelu Lukaku. These teams also met in a 2013 friendly, a match Japan won 3-2.
Belgium was my pick to win the World Cup before this tournament, and I honestly feel stronger about that pick after watching them play the first three matches. You can make a strong argument that no team has looked better up to this point than Belgium. Give Japan credit for making it out of the group stages given all the outside noise this team was dealing with, but it’s only good result was a win over an undermanned Columbia. Japan struggled against Senegal and lost to Poland, two teams that aren’t on Belgium’s level.
There’s too much firepower here, and I don’t mind laying the juice. Belgium rolls.