The biggest mismatch of the Round of 16 kicks off on Monday, as Belgium look to secure a place in the quarterfinals by knocking off Japan. The Samurai Blue are the story of the tournament, advancing through Group F over Senegal and Poland.
Belgium vs. Japan Odds
Belgium are a big favorite on Monday, sitting at -250 on the moneyline according to OddsShark.com. Japan is the biggest underdog of the Round of 16, priced as high as +1000 on some online sportsbooks. Remember that’s to win the match outright, without extra time or penalty kicks. The draw is priced around +400.
Belgium are favored by 1.5 goals on 5dimes, another high for the round. Belgium are a slight underdog laying 1.5 goals, priced at +117 on 5Dimes. Conversely, Japan is a favorite at -130 getting 1.5 goals.
The goal total is set at 2.5, with the over (-115) favored over the under (+105).
Belgium vs. Japan Prediction
After Russia knocked off Spain, I’m not sure how to predict these games. But make no mistake, this is a mismatch that Belgium should win handily.
Both teams played to an unconventional result in their final group game. Belgium’s backups defeated England’s backups in a game nobody wanted to win, and Japan held off Senegal by keeping the ball deep in their own half, then advanced via Fair Play rules.
Belgium are full speed ahead with Romelu Lukaku, who returned to training after missing some time with an injury. The Manchester United striker has been a force in the tournament, scoring four goals in two starts.
That scoring output matches Japan’s total scoring through three games in Russia. Belgium scored nine goals in the group phase while Japan scored four, with two coming against 10-man Colombia.
Like they did in a strong showing against Senegal, Japan will try to strike on the counter attack. But there’s a reason Japan has never won a World Cup knockout match, and a reason Japan has only won two of their last nine against European teams. They don’t have an Eden Hazard or a Dries Merterns to make the spectacular play, or even the consistent play that an elite World Cup team needs. Premier League striker Shinji Okazaki, known to provide the scoring spark for Japan, is in doubt to play with an ankle injury.
While this has been a crazy World Cup, one defined by the performances of smaller nations, Japan don’t have the skill at all levels like Belgium have. The Red Devils are one of the more complete teams in the tournament, and should reach the quarterfinals for the second consecutive World Cup.
Prediction: Belgium win 4-1