The Europeans battle against the Asian team in an exciting round-of-16 match
Japan is the team to fear at the moment, after topping the group of death at this year’s World Cup.
Incredible performances by the Japanese against strong teams such as Spain and Germany saw them finish the group with six points and advance to the round of 16.
What is most impressive about Samurai Blue is their attitude and their passion. In both of their wins, they made incredible comebacks after conceding first.
On the other hand, Croatians cannot be counted under any circumstances. the Vatreni did not play the best football against the Belgians and were lucky not to concede.
Croatia is still undefeated at the World Cup and at times was quite impressive with its attacking power.
Although their performances have been a little inconsistent and they have looked shaky defensively at times, Zlatko Dalic’s men will certainly give Japan a run for their money in the upcoming clash.
The Freiburg midfielder was quite impressive and crucial against the Samurai Blue and Germany and played a big part in his country’s triumph. He scored 2 goals in this competition so far and was one of the best players for Japan in this World Cup. In addition to his goals, his passing and strength in the midfield additionally benefit the team.
With exceptional ball control and superb playmaking abilities, it’s fair to say that Kovacic is a beast in midfield. His inert presence in both the attacking and defensive halves is something that Croatia uses to their advantage.
And against Japan, his contribution will be significant, because Samurai Blue often leaves space in their defensive line, and with Kovacic’s abilities, Croatia can look to exploit the Japanese.
Injuries and team news
Japanese midfielder Ko Itakura saw his second yellow of the tournament against Spain and will be suspended for this match. Takefusa Kubo is doubtful for the game, due to a muscle injury.
Samurai Blue is tasked with finding suitable replacements for these players to force them to put forward their best possible team against Croatia.
Croatia, on the other hand, has all its players available to play, but Dalić could make a few changes in the team that played against Belgium due to his team’s poor performance.
Japan predicted KSI (3-4-3): Gonda, Tomiyasu, Yoshida, Tiniguchi, Ito, Morita, Tanaka, Doan, Asano, Maeda, Kamada
Croatia predicted KSI (4-3-3): Livakovic, Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa, Modric, Brazovic, Kovacic, Pasalic, Kramaric, Perisic
We can all expect a shootout and high scoring contest as both teams attack hard and will look to outscore the rest. The game will be decided in the midfield, as the team that wins the midfield battle will surely have the advantage over the team.
Croatia will put a lot of pressure on Samurai Blue and get a number of chances, but the Japanese will go for the win over the Croatians.
Their extreme pace and high intensity play will help them oversee this Croatian side.
Prediction: Croatia 2 – Japan 1