After defeating two former champions, Japan’s murderous giants will be eager for another impressive head of tournament play when they take on Croatia in Monday’s round of 16 clash at Al Janoub Stadium. Croatia’s seasoned stars will have other plans as they look to ensure they have their say in proceedings.
However, Hajime Moriyasu’s second half specialists not only managed to do that, but made it better by topping the pack, beating the two giants in the process despite trailing at half time in both games.
The only botch on their resume was a 1-0 defeat at the hands of lowly Costa Rica sandwiched between two giant killings.
They took an interesting approach in their first three games, allowing opponents to pin them down for 45 minutes before switching to a more attacking formation in the second and looking to attack the break using lightning-fast counterattacks and forcing turnovers upfield. .
They have excellent fast technical players who are adept at turning turns and transitions. Their buzzing offensive depth, which they can pull off the bench, has the potential to surprise many.
Croatia, for their part, managed to scalp themselves. The Checkered Ones put on a tenacious display to knock Belgium‘s star-studded aging golden generation out of the tournament with a goalless draw in their final group match, despite getting lucky on occasion. The 2018 World Cup finalists were the big favourites. to advance from Group F, and they delivered, but they were far from convincing during the group stage, generally looking somewhat stale and helpless, and only did enough to finish second in their group behind shock group winners Morocco.
To their credit, Croatia were terrific against Canada with Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic running the show from midfield. While the powers of their golden generation are waning, they can draw on their wealth of experience on grand stages having reached the finals of this competition last time. Can they do another deep run this time?
Confirmed lineups Japan vs Croatia
Japan XI (3-4-3): Gonda; Tomiyasu, Yoshida, Taniguchi; Ito, Endo, Morita, Nagatomo; Doan, Maeda, Kamada
Croatia XI (4-3-3): Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Barisic; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Kramaric, Petkovic, Perisic
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