Japan and Croatia will play in the 1/8 finals of the World Cup. The vice-champions were expected in the elimination matches, but Japan’s exit came as a surprise.
Japan finished first in the same quartet as Spain, Germany, and Costa Rica. The Japanese were initially considered the underdog, but they beat Germany and Spain. The winning scenario was the same: a first-half conceded goal, substitutions and two second-half goals. In the game against Germany, it took longer to turn the tide, with the Spaniards scoring in the opening stages of the second half. The only loss was a 0-1 loss to Costa Rica. Japan won matches where they played second.
Ritsu Doan was an important player for the team. He twice came out as a substitute and took part in victories over Spain and Germany. The forward scored two goals.
The 2018 World Cup vice-champions qualified for the playoffs from second place in the group. There were enough sensations in the quartet. First place went to Morocco, which eventually left Belgium without a 1/8th-place finish. Croatia played a 0-0 draw with Morocco. With the same score ended the match of the third round of the group stage against Belgium. There were goals only in the second game of the Croatian team. Croatia beat Canada 4-1. “The Checkers were the first to concede a goal, but then they came back and had a confident win.
Andrei Kramaric scored two goals in the tournament. Lovro Meyer and Marko Livaja got one goal each. Ivan Perisic has also scored two assists. Mislav Orsic and Josip Juranovic also had an assist. At the tournament in Qatar, Croatia has proved that the main strength of the team is the midfield. The trio of Modric-Kovacic-Brozovic help control the tempo of the match and the ball. Defender Josco Guardiola has been excellent at the tournament.
The Croatian team was expected to be the favorite. The Europeans played in the final of the last World Cup and are superior to their opponent.
Japan defeated two of the world’s soccer giants in a similar manner: deaf defense in the first half, high pressing and quick counterattacks in the second half. Croatia will be ready for such a scenario, and they are perfectly capable of adjusting to their opponent’s strengths. “The Checkers have only conceded one goal in the tournament and that was in the opening game of the first half against Canada. It will be extremely difficult for the Japanese to score. Both teams will not take any chances and will play on defense.
Bet on the match: Croatia win or draw.