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Japan vs Croatia, FIFA World Cup 2022, Today Match Prediction

Al Wakrah, Al Janoub Stadium

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Surprise package Japan aim to pull off another shock in last-16 clash with Croatia

  • Japan beat both Spain and Germany in a thrilling end to Group E
  • Croatia earned one win from their group games, finishing 2nd in Group F to Morocco
  • Winners here will face either Brazil or South Korea in the Quarter Finals

Croatia to win 2-1

Tournament: FIFA World Cup 2022 | Venue: Al Wakrah, Al Janoub Stadium

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In terms of surprise packages at World Cups, Japan’s journey through Group E will live long in the memory for football fans.

To beat both Germany and then Spain to finish top of their group was something that no one will have predicted. They needed a little luck and a lot of controversy along the way, but they’ve brought energy and passion like few others at this tournament.

Now they have the chance to upset the apple cart once more. To reach the Quarter Finals by beating the 2018 runners-up would be another phenomenal result for the Asian nation.

Croatia have endured a mixed journey so far. While they have remained undefeated so far, just one win from their three games means that they finished behind Morocco in the pecking order. 

Morocco now face Spain, so perhaps Croatia dodged a bullet. Or perhaps, judging by how Japan have played so far, they’ve actually given themselves the short straw.

This will be a fascinating contest.

Japan Preview

FIFA Ranking: 24

Predicted Finish: Round of 16

Reasons to be cheerful:

     Beat both the 2010 and 2014 champions in the Group Stage

     Have a wonderful ability to come from behind in games

Reasons to be fearful:

     Have averaged just 32% possession so far at this World Cup

     Itakura will miss out in defence due to picking up a suspension

Japan will have every right to feel that another shock could be on the cards here. Croatia are not necessarily the team that they were four years ago, although they have some excellent players still in their ranks.

The Japanese have been happy to concede the majority of possession in games, having around a third in total across their Group Stage outings. In truth, they have relied on second-half performances to see them through.

In their final group game against Spain, they relied on a controversial VAR decision to allow their goal to stand, when it appeared the ball had gone out. Japan won’t mind one bit, of course.

Here, they’ll have to manage without mainstay defender Ko Itakura, who picked up his second booking of the tournament. Takefusa Kobu is a fresh injury concern upfront.

Star Man – Kaoru Mitoma

Japan’s goals have all been scored by different players, often by substitutions, making it hard to know who’s going to pop up where. Mitoma came off the bench and provided the crucial assist for the winner over Spain.

Croatia Preview

FIFA Ranking: 12

Predicted Finish: Quarter Finals

Reasons to be cheerful

     Midfield should have the energy to contain Japan

     Are vastly experienced at this level

Reasons to be fearful

     Modric will miss Quarter Finals if booked here

     Attackers have been hit and miss at this tournament

Croatia are a rather unique proposition at this tournament, in that their midfield is so much stronger than the rest of their team.

Modric, Brozovic and Kovacic can keep the ball brilliantly and run all day, as shown by their undefeated status at this World Cup. Their defence has been largely untested due to the brilliance of those in front of them. 

Although their forward players sparked into life against Canada, a game they won 4-1, they’ve failed to find the net in the other two games. Kramaric has two, while Perisic always looks a threat from the left.

To overcome this talented Japanese team, you feel they’ll need to find more than one goal here.

Star Man – Luca Modric

We should cherish the moments that this man is still playing on the biggest stage – this will be his last World Cup. He always seems to deliver on the most important moments and we should expect something special.

     Croatia will control the ball through midfield

     Japan have proven themselves happy to sit back and counter

     A game of two halves

Judging by Japan’s games so far at this World Cup, we may not see them at their best until the second half begins. The first 45 minutes could be tense and tight from both teams.

Croatia will settle into their passing rhythms from the outset, relying on Modric and Kovacic to drive them forward from midfield. Japan will need to be resolute in defence.

This is a game that will be settled late on, and possibly through extra time. 

Croatia have the experience required to just edge it.

Croatia to win 2-1

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Author: Ross B.