World Cup 2018 | Belgium v Japan Tips | 2nd July 2018
THE LAST 16 of the World Cup continues on Monday as Belgium meet Japan. Our man Mark O’Haire offers his betting preview and tips.
Belgium topped Group G with maximum points having triumphed in the game that neither they, nor England, wished to win to complete their campaign. The Red Devils now enter the perceived difficult side of the draw but Roberto Martinez’s men should at least cruise through their Last 16 tie on Monday.
Belgium were rarely challenged in their first three fixtures and managed to accumulate nine goals. Having made 10 changes against England, the squad should arrive fresh and, while there remains a few lingering doubts over their 3-4-3 system, the Europeans should still stamp their authority all over this clash.
Japan enjoyed a large slice of luck to reach the knockout phase. The Asian giants benefitted from a third minute red card against a Colombia side missing James Rodriguez from the start, before escaping into the Last 16 on fair play having picked up an undeserving point from their final two outings.
Belgium -1.5 Handicap
The Samurai Blue have lost their last five against UEFA opposition – failing to score on three occasions – and their Expected Goals from open play tally of 1.17 in a pool without a standout seed will be an obvious concern for underdog backers here.
Belgium are unbeaten in 22 matches – winning 17 – and should be too good for Japan. Over the past five World Cup tournaments, 13 of 40 ties at this stage were settled by a margin of two goals or more and the Red Devils can enhance that stat by covering the -1.5 handicap here at 5/4.