Can Japan Slow Down Belgium’s Attack?

Jul 02, 2018 7:00 AM EDT

Belgium vs. Japan, 2 p.m. ET, Fox

  • Belgium -265
  • Japan +875
  • Draw +380

Bet to Watch:

Over 2.5 Goals -113 (Bookmaker)

No team in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup scored as many goals as Belgium. The Red Devils hit the back of the net nine times and looked like an offensive force in Group F even if two of the games were against weak opposition. In their third and final game, Belgium were able to rest key players that were a little banged up like Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens.

When you watch Belgium you can see why they’re such a threat going forward. While most teams pick up the ball in midfield and then take their time before making the safe pass, the Red Devils do not. They have one of the premier playmakers in the world in Kevin De Bruyne and when he’s on the ball, his first thought is to get it up the field. That style does leave them exposed, as it did against Tunisia, and that’s a little bit concerning since the main knock on Belgium is whether they will be able to defend well enough against good teams.

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Luckily, Japan aren’t all that good. They were able to claw their way out of Group H, despite a lackluster loss to Poland in their last game. In fact, the only reason Japan got through was due to FIFA fair play points. They were tied with Senegal on points and goal differential, but since they had less yellow cards they won the tie-breaker.

 

Japan’s defense is a cause for concern as well. Not only did they concede a goal in all three games, but Samurai Blue were outplayed for a majority of the game against a Colombian team that was down a man for 87 minutes. It’s a bit alarming considering that Poland, Senegal and Colombia all pale in comparison to Belgium when it comes to creating chances.

In their match versus Tunisia, Belgium created 5.3 expected goals (+1 penalty), which is the highest total in the tournament so far. Part of the reasoning for that high total is that normally when teams take a lead they take their foot off the gas, Belgium does not.

Both of these teams have the ability to score, but the fact that they are weak in the back really pushes me towards the over 2.5 goals.

Follow Sean Newsham on Twitter
@psufans2

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