One of the matches of the tournament! Belgium and Japan have played a real cracker of a match in the Round of 16. This game didn’t lack anything, there was a comeback, suspense, intensity, everything.
In the first half both teams were playing good, but they didn’t score. They were too careful to leave spaces at the back and not too creative to make some havoc in the opposition’s box.
After the break everything changes. Belgium started attacking more and eventually left too much space. Inui started a play by turning around like prime Xavi and then Haraguchi sent a great through ball to Shibasaki to score the first goal of the game. Verthonghen was at fault for the goal but he redeemed himself later in the game.
Belgium started attacking even more and left more spaces for Japan to exploit. Then, the fantastic Inui scored a great goal from over 20 meters. Courtouis couldn’t anything about it.
The Belgiums have started getting nervous as the game progressed. The way things stood, no one would have guessed that they would make a comeback. Moreover, Lukaku missed a clear-cut chance just minutes after Japan’s second goal.
But then Fellaini and Chadli replaced Mertens and Carrasco, respectively and turned the game around. Roberto Martinez has finally noticed how much taller his players were and wanted to use that against the Japanese. Yamaguchi and Honda were the substitutions for Belgium.
Firstly, Verthonghen made the score 2-1 with a fantastic header. After the game, he was honest and he said that he didn’t mean to shoot on goal from there but he still scored.
The Belgians started crossing the ball more and the Japanese defenders couldn’t handle Lukaku, Fellaini and Witsel. Fellaini then scored a classic Fellaini goal. He outjumped easily the opposition’s defenders and equalized the game.
Belgium had a few more chances through set pieces to score the winner but they didn’t use them. Then, near the end of the game Japan got a corner. The Japanese players joined the attack in large numbers and left too much space behind. It was really an inexperienced thing to do at the end of the game. Courtois grabbed the ball, gave it to De Bruyne who ran 50 meters with it. Lukaku made a great run to give space to Meunier who later assisted Chadli. Both substitutions scored and Belgium won the game in the 90+ minutes. It was a heart breaking ending for the Japanese who didn’t deserve to lose like this.
Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Verthonghen; Meunier, Witsel, De Bruyne, Carrasco (Chadli); Mertens (Fellaini), Hazard, Lukaku.
Kawashima; Sakai, Yoshida, Shoji, Nagatomo; Shibasaki (Yamaguchi), Hasebe, Kagawa, Haraguchi (Honda), Inui; Osako.
Belgium are now playing against the biggest contenders for the title – Brazil. They won’t be favorites in that game and shouldn’t have pressure when playing. This game proved just another time that they are shaky in the defense, especially on the left side. Chadli was much better than Carrasco in the left wing back position and it is expected that he will play from the start in that game. Roberto Martinez could also try with a 4 men defense against the Brazilians.