Match Preview: Japan vs Croatia
It’s Samurais vs Blazers on Monday at the Qatar world cup. This will be the third World Cup meeting between Japan and Croatia, with Japan win-less and goalless in the previous two – a 0-1 defeat in 1998 and a goalless draw in 2006, both in the group stage.
Those two matches are Croatia’s only previous World Cup games against an Asian nation. Japan is confident throughout the group stages. In their first match, they defeated the 2014 champions Germany by 2-1. In the 2nd match, they lost against Costa Rica by 0-1.
In their final group stage match, they defeated the 2010 champions Spain by 2-1 to become group champions, progressed to pre-quarter, and eliminated the German team. They delivered a spectacular performance on the group stage and are confident. Croatia on the other hand has 2 draws and 1 win in the group stages. They defeated Canada in the group stage and drew against Belgium and morocco. They progressed to pre-quarter as 2nd in the group.
Japan has reached the last 16 of the World Cup for a fourth time, including both of the last two editions. However, they have never progressed from this stage, going out to Turkey in 2002, Paraguay (on penalties) in 2010, and Belgium in 2018. The only Asian nations to reach the World Cup quarter-finals was DPR Korea in 1966 and Korea Republic in 2002. This will be Croatia’s third appearance in the round of 16 at the World Cup, while they progressed from this stage in both previous such instances, beating Romania 1-0 in 1998 and Denmark on penalties in 2018.
Croatia has only lost two of their eight knockout stage games at the World Cup (W4 D2), while they also progressed from the two such games that finished as draws on penalties, both in 2018 (v Denmark in the round of 16, Russia in the quarter-final).
Japan normally uses 4-2-3-1 as their formation against Germany and costa Rica was 4-2-3-1. But against Spain, they used 3-4-3. On the other hand, Croatia normally uses 4-3-3 which they used in all group-stage matches.
Players to watch:
The main Croatian player to watch is their captain Luka Modric. Kramaric is also a player to watch as he scored 2 goals against Canada. The main player to watch in Japan is Doan. Tanaka is also a key player.
The match is expected to be a thrilling one. Both sides have edges but considering the current form, Japan is the favorite.