Belgium and Japan will meet in the Round of 16, in a meeting between one of the World Cup favorites and one of the biggest underdogs. Belgium more than doubled Japan’s scoring output in the Group Phase, but both teams have qualified and will now meet for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Belgium vs. Japan Date, Time & Location
Belgium will take on Japan on July 2nd at Rostov Arena. The match will kick off at 2 p.m. Eastern and air on Fox in the United States.
Neither team appeared at Rostov Arena during the Group Phase, but the site hosted a few of the more entertaining matches of the stage. It hosted a tense draw between Brazil and Switzerland, as well as a late battle between Iceland and Croatia.
Belgium vs. Japan Odds & Prediction
Belgium are a clear odds favorite, priced at -240 according to OddsShark.com. Japan is a massive underdog to win outright at +910, while a draw through 90 minutes sits at +370. The goal total is set at 2.5, with the under (-111) at over (-104) basically even.
Few thought Japan would reach this far, and now it feels difficult to project just how deep this team can go. But when faced with one of the toughest teams in the tournament entering the Round of 16, the odds will not be in favor of the Samurai.
Japan scored the early upset of the tournament, catching a break from an early red card to defeat a 10-man Colombia side. The real heroics came in their second match, when they twice came from behind to draw even with Senegal. But what truly sent Japan through to the next round is clean play and defensive discipline. That’s because they advanced to the next round via Fair Play rules over Senegal, who accumulated more cards than Japan through the first three matches. Japan played conservative in the final minutes against Senegal, and regardless of style, they’re in the Round of 16 for just the third time in their nation’s history.
Belgium advanced via a tense Group G finale. It seemed that neither England nor Belgium wanted to win their final game, but a Belgian goal by Adnan Januzaj proved the only difference. The two teams rampaged through the group, leaving Panama and Tunisia in their wake.
Belgium in particular never struggled in the opening round. After a 3-0 trouncing of Panama, they defeated Tunisia 5-2 to seal their place in the next round. Romelu Lukaku, who sat out the group finale with an ankle injury but should be fit against Japan, has four goals in the tournament.
Even if Japan’s World Cup journey ends here, they’ve made their mark. Not only did they blow away experts by reaching the Round of 16, but they easily won the non-existent award for best World Cup fans. From the now-famous scenes of fans cleaning up the stadium after matches, to this Japan-Senegal singalong after their intense match, Japan has been the easiest team to root for.
Regardless of odds, I’m backing Belgium in this one. While they haven’t played a worthy opponent yet in Russia (England’s match hardly counts), they have the talent in Lukaku, Hazard and Mertens to break down any defense.
Way Too Early Prediction: 2-0 Belgium