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Japan vs Croatia Match Preview

wincomparator
03 Dec 2022 19:35    

The match

Japan will attempt to defy the odds yet again when they take on the 2018 runners-up Croatia at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah for this round of 16 matchup at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Samurai Blue pulled off one of the biggest shocks of the tournament when they beat out both Spain and Germany to top Group E. It all culminated on the final matchday of the group stage when Japan overcame Spain 2-1 despite falling down a goal early on. The result was their second big upset of the competition after also coming back from a goal down to defeat Germany 2-1 in the opening fixture. The Japanese have never made it past this stage after a round of 16 exit in 2018, 2010 and 2002. Standing in their way is an experienced Croatia side looking to put together a similar run that saw them finish second to eventual winners France in 2018. Croatia finished second in Group F after a 0-0 draw against Belgium in matchday three sealed their spot in the knockout stages. The Vatreni finished on five points with one win and two draws in the group stage.

Croatia feel like they are flying somewhat under the radar in this tournament as many may not consider Zlatko Dalic’s men to be serious contenders to lift the World Cup trophy. However, an excellent run of results in the build up to the tournament means that Croatia are one of the in-form teams of the competition. Luka Modric and company topped a Nations League group which also included France in Denmark after winning four and drawing one of their six matches. They’ve now won six of their last eight matches and have shown an increased defensive solidity, keeping three clean sheets in their last four matches. Japan will be hoping the experience gained in defeating two powerhouse nations will serve them well against a Croatia team expected to dominate the possession with their world class midfield. Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu is very likely to implement his 3-4-3 system which had success on the counterattack against both Spain and Germany. With that being said, the experience in this Croatia side should be enough to see them over the line and put an end to Japan’s storybook run.


Key Statistics

Croatia have only lost once in their last 19 matches.

Japan only have two wins over their last five matches.

Croatia have kept five clean sheets in their last eight matches.

Japan have conceded in four consecutive matches.

Croatia have only lost once in their past 10 World Cup matches – in the final against France in 2018.


The bet of our experts

Croatia’s vast experience should prepare them well for what will be a tricky Japanese side playing with all the confidence in the world. Japan finished with only 18% possession against Spain and 26% possession against the Germans and it's very likely that we see a similar type of match here with Croatia dictating most of the play. Japan will hope to hit Croatia on the counter but the Vatreni have proven a tough nut to crack in recent fixtures, keeping impressive clean sheets against Belgium and Morocco. Back the Croatians to get the job done in this one and win the match in regulation time.


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