Monday, 24 September, 2018

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez aware of Japan threat

Belgium's Eden Hazard celebrates after scoring his side's fourth goal during the group G match between Belgium and Tunisia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Spartak Stadium in Moscow Russia Saturday Eden Hazard captains what many consider to be Belgium's golden generation Credit AP
Edward Snyder | 03 July, 2018, 00:37

Belgium scored three times in the final 20 minutes to complete a stunning 3-2 win against Japan and to set up a mouth-watering clash against Brazil in the quarter-finals.

Some might argue that Roberto Martinez's side would have had a less challenging path through the draw if they had finished second in Group G. In that scenario, they would have faced a potential quarter-final against Switzerland or Sweden.

Belgium face Japan on Sunday with a spot in the World Cup quarter-finals on the line (22:00 UAE kick-off time).

Kick-off is 7pm Nigerian time.

Goals from Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui had put Japan ahead 2-0, but Belgium hit back through Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini before Nacer Chadli won it in the 94th minute.

Here are the possible players who can be part of Belgium team today.

Despite being only 25 years old, the powerfully-built Lukaku already has 40 worldwide goals - including four so far in Russian Federation. There is so much hype surrounding this Belgium side, anything but a semifinal appearance - matching the nation's best achievement in 1986 - will be deemed a disappointment.




"Now we can be more aggressive, we have the spirit and mentality to win and I think we can match Belgium mentally".

Japan have impressed so far in Russian Federation with a 2-1 win over Colombia and a 2-2 draw in an entertaining match against Senegal before a 0-1 defeat to Poland. My image of Belgium is their three full-backs and two defensive midfielders, and two very attacking wingers.

The scenes at full-time were a far cry from early in the second half, which saw Japan race into the lead in a frenetic period of play.

De Bruyne advanced the ball with a handsome push, making a ideal lead pass to Jan Vertonghen with room to run. Will Belgium see its World Cup run continue with a win as heavy favorites?

Among the pre-tournament favourites in Russia, Eden Hazard and the Belgians march on to a last-eight meeting with Brazil.

Then Inui - operating on the other flank and who has just signed for Spanish side Betis - showed what he can do with a magnificent strike from outside the area after being teed up by Shinji Kagawa.

Martinez, who has declared Lukaku, Thomas Vermaelen and Vincent Kompany fit to play at Rostov Arena, said of his team's potential route through the knockout stages: "To be successful in a World Cup is not about facing the opponent that everyone expects is going to be giving you the golden key to go through". Japan, under the old management regime, in November 2017 lost 1-0 to Belgium with Romelu Lukaku scoring the only goal of the match.

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