Belgium vs Japan: 5 things to look forward to

Nacer Chadli scored deep into second-half stoppage time to complete Belgium's 3-2 comeback win against Japan in the World Cup round of 16 on Monday.

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 should be a winnable match for coach Roberto Martinez's men, but stranger things have happened at this tournament.

Japan, who progressed to the last 16 on fair play rules, have only committed 28 fouls during the group stage, fewer than any other team.

Kick-off is 7pm Nigerian time.

Japan led 2-0 on early second-half goals by Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui in Rostov, Russia.

However, the Red Devils responded with quick goals of their own as Jan Vertonghen, at fault for Haraguchi's goal, and Marouane Fellaini both scored headers before Chadli's dramatic victor in Rostov.

"This is a group of players who know what they are doing on the pitch, so I expect a very, very hard game, one where we will have to concentrate at all times because they are capable of creating problems due to that dynamic approach they have".

Romelu Lukaku set the stage on fire with four goals from just two matches in the round-robin stage before sitting out for the England game with an injury.

Now Japan stand in the path of another appearance in the quarter-finals, where Brazil or Mexico will lie in wait. 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.

The sixth match of the pre-quarterfinal round in 2018 FIFA World Cup will see Belgium lock horns with Japan.

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

Belgium came into that tournament on the back of being eliminated in the first round of 1998 World Cup as well as the 2000 Euro Cup (which they co-hosted), while Japan entered this tournament as the co-hosts of 2002 World Cup along with South Korea.

"That's what happens in the World Cup".

Keisuke Honda's 30-metre free-kick was parried away by Courtois in stoppage time before the keeper launched the ball to Kevin De Bruyne to make a beeline upfield before finding Meunier, whose cross was met by Chadli for the victor. Japan, under the old management regime, in November 2017 lost 1-0 to Belgium with Romelu Lukaku scoring the only goal of the match.

  • Julie Sanders