Japan vs Croatia Match Analysis & Prediction
05/12/2022 6:00 pm
Japan will be looking to pull of another impressive scalp at the 2022 World Cup when they take on Croatia in Monday’s last-16 tie at the Al Janoub Stadium.
The Samurai Blue remarkably finished first in Group E above Spain and Germany, while the 2018 runners-up were forced to settle for second in Group F behind Morocco.
Any team that beats Spain in one tournament no doubt deserves a place in the knockout rounds, and Japan have finally broken their cycle of a last-16 place followed by a group stage exit, having also got to the knockout phase in Russia four years ago.
Hajime Moriyasu’s side are far from the finished product, as witnessed by their disappointing 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica on matchday two, but they could now set up an all-Asian quarter-final with South Korea, although their near neighbours mus first eliminate Brazil in their last-16 tie.
Japan are still waiting for their first quarter-final appearance at a World Cup and are no strangers to having their backs against the wall, averaging just 32.3% possession in Qatar so far, and Moriyasu’s super subs must continue to prove as effective as ever if they are to make history on Monday.
Had Romelu Lukaku been able to finish one of the many gilt-edged chances he inexplicable wasted against Croatia, the Chequered Ones could very well have been heading out of the competition, but the Chelsea attacker’s complacency worked in their favour to the extreme.
Steadfast defending from RB Leipzig starlet Josko Gvardiol also helped get Zlatko Dalic’s side over the line in a goalless draw, which saw the 2018 runners-up finish second in Group F behind Morocco and qualify for the knockout rounds by the skin of their teeth.
Since suffering a 4-3 defeat in their first meeting with Japan 25 years ago, Croatia have since defeated the Samurau Blus at the 1998 World Cup before playing out a goalless draw in the 2006 edition, and yet another low-scoring affair in Qatar is not beyond the realm of possibilty in this last-16 tie.
Japan vs. Croatia Head to head
These two nations have previously met onn just three occasions in two competitions, where theyr have each won once while drawing once, with both having scored four goals in the process.
Japan Team News
Ko Itakura picked up his second yellow card of the World Cup in the victory over Spain, which means that he will be suspended for the last-16 clash, with Takehiro Tomiyasu coming in to deputise.
Wataru Endo shook off a fitness issue to come on as a substitute in that game.
Japan's Last 5 Matches
27/11/2022Japan0Costa Rica1World Cup
Croatia Team News
Luka Modric and Dejan Lovren will miss any potential quarter-final if they are booked on Monday, with Dalic set to stick with his 4-3-3 formation.
Andrej Kramaric and Marko Livaja both failed to shine in the goalless draw with Belgium, while Nikola Vlasic and Mario Pasalic are vying for opportunities in attack.
Croatia's Last 5 Matches
27/11/2022World Cup4Canada1World Cup
Japan vs. Croatia: Odds and Predictions
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