Published: Tue, July 03, 2018
Sport | By Tony Jimenez

Chadli the hero as Belgium bounces back to beat Japan

Chadli the hero as Belgium bounces back to beat Japan

The free-scoring Belgians go in as firm favourites, taking with them a 100 per cent record from the group phase and netting nine goals in beating Panama, Tunisia and England.

Belgium will play Brazil in the quarter finals on Friday (July 6).

"Yes, we are facing Belgium, a formidable foe, but I'd like to be mentally prepared".

"It's a new challenge for us to get through and hopefully we will make a new history for Japanese football".

Hazard was joined on the field by his younger brother Thorgan for the final seven minutes of Belgium's third Group G game against England, helping to see out a 1-0 victory that secured a tie with Japan in the last 16.

"I'm asked this question nearly every single day, in terms of a penalty shoot-out, of course, it's something that I need to decide", he said of the likely order of takers.

"Especially in 2002, it was the first time that Japan made it through to the round of 16, they were very how aggressive they felt about the match in the round of 16, I'm not sure". Honda, who has netted 37 times for Japan, is no longer a regular, but the 32-year-old former AC Milan player remains risky on free kicks.

"The ones who played against England are desperate to contribute again and those who were rested want to get out on the pitch". They lost in the last eight at Euro 2016 when a run to the final could have been on the cards, and at the last World Cup a younger version of this side were considered one of the dark horses. Even when they were put under serious pressure by Belgium, the team kept their shape and defended with discipline and energy.

Ex-England global Phil Neville described Japan and Poland's approach as "disgraceful", but coach Akira Nishino's senior players defended the tactic. But they haven't truly established themselves as a burgeoning power since then, with their loss to Wales at the Euros becoming emblematic of this generation's Belgium: a supremely talented squad that can't be relied upon when it counts. Shinji Kagawa is the main man in the middle playing behind the Yuya Osako.

"We know what to do and what not to do, we are better off", insisted Hazard.

Japan took the lead when they won possession deep in their own half. Will it be the team that defeated Colombia two weeks ago or the one that fell to already-eliminated Poland?

While Japan are beatable, there's no knowing which team will show up for Sunday's game.

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