Sunday, May 19, 2019

Prediction: Belgium vs Japan

Verdict: Belgium to win to nil

Best Odds: 21/20

Bookmaker: Bet 365

Belgium and Japan go head-to-head as they compete for a place in the quarter-finals of the World Cup 2018. We make our prediction on the last-16 clash from the Rostov Arena.


After a strange 1-0 victory over England on Thursday, Belgium can perhaps count themselves unlucky that their run-in seems slightly harder than their rivals. Much of the pre-match hype had been about whether or not the two teams actually wanted to win, but Roberto Martinez’s men should be happy with their last-16 clash nonetheless. Japan lie in wait and Belgium will be strong favourites to progress, especially considering they’ve looked impressive offensively so far. It’s now 22 matches unbeaten across all competitions for the Belgians, and they can also draw confidence from the fact they beat Japan 1-0 back in November. The Red Devils are now third favourites to win the World Cup and that perhaps indicates the gulf in class between the two teams. Romelu Lukaku has looked in formidable form so far in the competition with four goals and he will have his eyes fixed firmly on the Golden Boot. The strong 6ft3 striker should have a strong advantage over the Japanese defence and could add to his tally.

Team News

After Romelu Lukaku’s fitness problems, Roberto Martinez has confirmed the striker is now fully fit to face Japan.

Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard will also return to the line-up after being rested in their final group match against Japan.


There’s no doubt that Japan will be counting themselves lucky after edging through Group H on fair play points. Nonetheless, nothing should be taken away from them given the fact they were huge underdogs to progress. Despite this success, Japan have still endured a terrible run of form during their past nine games, losing five times and winning just twice. The Blue Samurai now face a Belgian side who will be a different kettle of fish to the teams they have faced so far. One thing they will be able to draw confidence from is their pace and energy, but they do seem to lack that little bit of quality. Even though the new recruits are enthusiastic enough, they’re nothing compared to experienced players such as Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa. It seems a little unjustified that Japan qualified for the last-16 based on the amount of yellow cards picked up and not because of their footballing ability. Because of this we are expecting Belgium to teach them a footballing lesson on Monday.

Team News

Japan look likely to revert back to the line-up they went with for the first two games after making changes against Poland.

Key Factors to Consider

  • The Red Devils have won just one of their past five encounters with Japan (D2 L2)
  • Belgium have never kept a clean sheet in 11 previous World Cup knockout games, losing eight of them (W2 D1)
  • Martinez’s team have scored more goals than any other team in this year’s World Cup group stage (9)
  • Japan have scored in only one of their last six World Cup clashes with European opponents (W1 D2 L3)
  • Belgium are unbeaten in 22 matches with their last defeat coming against Spain in September 2016 (2-0)


Belgium are huge favourites to progress from this clash and should easily brush aside a Japan team lucky to be in the last-16.

Verdict: Belgium to win to nil

Best Odds: 21/20

Bookmaker: Bet 365


Ashley Randall

Ash is a freelance football writer who lives, breathes and dreams the beautiful game. A lifelong Wolverhampton Wanderers season ticket holder, if he isn't at Molineux then he will be watching any game on television that he can set his eyes on. Producing work for various football websites and publications, Ash has also written for regional newspapers and global magazines.



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