Belgium vs. Japan: Team News, Live Stream, TV Info for World Cup 2018

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2018

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez looks on during the group G match between England and Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad, Russia, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Alastair Grant/Associated Press

Belgium's reward for topping Group G at the 2018 FIFA World Cup is a clash with Japan in the round of 16.

The Red Devils beat England 1-0 on Thursday to secure top spot a few hours after the Samarai Blue lost 1-0 to Poland. They advanced behind Colombia in Group H by having a better fair-play record than Senegal.


Date: Monday, July 2

Time: 7 p.m. BST/2 p.m. ET

TV: BBC (UK), Fox (USA)

Live Stream: BBC website (UK), Fox Soccer 2GO (U.S.)


Team News

Per Reuters' Alastair Macdonald, Romelu Lukaku has recovered from an ankle injury and will be available for the match.

According to the Japanese FA's official website, all of their players participated in training on Friday, the day after the Poland match. However, the starting XI and substitutes Yuya Osako and Makoto Hasebe only "conducted a light recovery session" indoors rather than out on the training pitch.

Transfermarkt suggests Shinji Okazaki could be a doubt because of muscular problems, though.



Japan and Senegal both won 2-1 in their opening group matches before playing out a 2-2 draw.

Each nation lost 1-0 in its final match, leaving the teams level on goal difference and goals scored. In the final period of their game, Japan were evidently well aware of their ability to progress on fair-play grounds, per the Telegraph's Ali Tweedale:

Ali Tweedale @alitweedale

Japan absolutely desperate to find an equaliser at the end of that game. https://t.co/eO4sPQCQdA

Football writer Rik Sharma noted the irony of the situation:

Rik Sharma @riksharma_

Japan, going through on fair play, with the most unsportsmanlike play of the whole tournament in the final minutes

It will have done little to endear them to fans, but it resulted in the desired outcome of reaching the knockout phase.

Going any further will be difficult, though.

The Samarai Blue lost to a disappointing Poland side who were already out of the tournament and benefited greatly from Carlos Sanchez's third-minute red card in their 2-1 win over Colombia, which handed them a penalty and a man advantage for virtually the entirety of the game.

Meanwhile, Belgium secured a maximum nine points and rang the changes in their victory over the Three Lions.

Lukaku and Eden Hazard were among those left out against England, but they will return here. With six goals and an assist between them, they have maintained their superb form for their national sides at the World Cup:

Kristof Terreur 📰 @HLNinEngeland

Both are not always fully appreciated in (parts of) their own country, but... Romelu Lukaku in his last 20 games for #bel: ⚽️ 23 goals 🅰️ 4 assists Eden Hazard in his last 20 games for #bel: ⚽️ 11 goals 🅰️ 11 assists Embrace them. #worldcup https://t.co/KkJbGthJrB

In the past year, Japan have kept just two clean sheets from 13 matches, and those came against Australia and North Korea.

They are vulnerable at the back, and with Belgium's attacking quality, this should only go one way.