"Against Poland, it was a little bit different, but they had a very strong group". Nevertheless, the Samurai Blue should not be underestimated, having earned a shock win over the talented Colombians in their Group H opener.
From a quick counter-attack, Belgium pounced on the counter end to eventually set up Chadli to tap in the victor for a last eight meeting with Brazil. The Belgians cruised to qualification, dropping just two points, scoring 43 goals and conceding six in ten matches. The most recent meeting between the sides came in a friendly in November that Belgium won 1-0. They were also hammered 4-1 in the EAFF East Asian Cup by South Korea in December.
Belgium, listed third in the latest Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings, play Japan on Monday in the round of 16 at Rostov Arena at Rostov-on-Don.it should be a winnable match for coach Roberto Martinez's men, but stranger things have happened at this tournament.
Kagawa, who has 31 worldwide goals, is likely to play as a playmaker behind the lone striker in Nishino's favored 4-2-3-1 formation.
Japan advanced to the round of 16 at the 2002 and 2010 World Cups, but has never reached the quarterfinals. What Japan did got them to the round of 16, as the sole representative from Asia.
Japan meanwhile will be aiming to make history by reaching the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time. "Golden Generation" is a name for a group of players who really enjoy working for the national team and want to take us as far as they can". The result saw both sides progress at Algeria's expense. Expectations have been raised by their solid start to the tournament, but coach Roberto Martinez has claimed to be focusing only on the next game. If any of them picks up a second booking against Japan, they will be suspended for the quarter-final - assuming that Belgium win. Manager Akira Nishino had his team expertly set up to effectively pressure Belgium's three-man backline of Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Vincent Kompany.
Goals by Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui in four devastating minutes had put Japan 2-0 up early in the second half to leave Belgium reeling.
The Round of 16 will continue in Rostov when Belgium take on Japan for a spot in the quarterfinals.
The Red Devils were still struggling but they pulled a goal back after 69 minutes when Vertonghen looped a header from a high clearance back across goal into the far top corner. However, Peter van der Heyden denied Japan a shock victory, beating the offside trap before deftly chipping the ball over goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki. They may very well get that chance here in Russian Federation. With the eliminations of Germany, Argentina, Portugal and Spain, it's even more so one of the teams to beat.
Japan entered the competition with low expectations, after a series of disappointing pre-tournament fixtures and the chaotic dismissal of their former coach. Still, it's a test that they ought to pass.