Japan progress from defence to attack and have no clear cut area where they can win a game from. They attack as a unit and defend as a unit, so it’s difficult to say this is their standout area.
But Belgium have a strong midfield and attack that can trouble any team. They have world-class midfielders and strikers that can punish any loss in concentration by their opponents.
Japan have some experienced players who have been their source of inspiration. Apart from that, they are a united team with a never-say-die spirit which has worked for them so far. They also have players who are fast and can run down any defence. They never give up until the last minute – such can be seen in their game against Senegal. They made some mistakes but they rose as a team to fight and get back into the game. Their team spirit and unity is a plus for them.
Belgium are also a united team but their major strength is their attack. They have fast wingers who can score goals as well as attacking midfielders who will be a pain in the neck for Japan.
The Japanese defence is weak. They have let in goals they shouldn’t have conceded.
Belgium’s weaknesses may come from their big names. If any of them fails to live up to expectations, it can cost them a quarter-final place.
The chances for both teams are 50-50. They both have the mindset of coming to win the tournament – or going as far as they can. The Japanese team were lucky to be in the round of 16 judging from how they qualified – they edged Senegal out through the yellow card rule.
Belgium are one of the best teams so far; they won all their group matches and have some stars who can turn the game around for them. They will be going into the match as favourites but they have to be careful against tricky Japan.
Belgium haveRomeluLukaku, Eden Hazard and many others. On their good day they will hurt the Japanese.
But players like Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki are also in the Asian team’s line-up. Keisuke Honda has also had a good tournament so far.
I am not good with predictions, so I will leave it open. Belgium have the quality and the big names while Japan have the speed. A slim win for any of the sides will determine the game.