Belgium is clearly the favourite in today’s game, however, the Red devils should remain serious if they want to continue with more challenging games.
The last days have been quite surprising in the 2018 World Cup. While Germany was eliminated during the qualifying rounds, both Portugal and Spain have been defeated in the Round of 16 by Uruguay and the host country, Russia.
It seems the upcoming games sound are a bit “easier” for some teams.. Japan indeed seems a “winnable” match, but an interesting challenger for the Red devils. “We cannot underestimate the opposition”, Roberto Martinez, the Belgian coach, told RTBF on Sunday.
It is quite hard to assess the exact level of the Japanese players. The qualifying round they were involved was quite homogeneous, together with Colombia, Senegal and Poland.
They beat Colombia, who are one of the favourite outsiders of the World Cup, but they also lost against Poland, who were eliminated after two games. And the Japanese qualification was a bit tricky, as the way they qualified over Senegal was by having a lower number of yellow cards.
There is no big star in the Japanese football team, but some players have an interesting background, such as Shinji Kagawa, who plays for Borussia Dortmund. “In terms of individual skills, they are better than we are”, Maya Yoshida, a defender who plays for Sunderland, said in a press conference on Saturday.
On the Belgian side, there should not be any massive surprise. Roberto Martinez had allowed the usual players to rest from the England game. The “best players” therefore should be fit for the upcoming games. If the Red devils take the game seriously enough, there’s a priori no issue when it comes to qualification. The next and decisive steps then could start, with a game vs. Brasil or Mexico, before the semi-finals vs. France or Uruguay can be held.