Roberto Martinez's men were heavy favourites to progress to the last-eight having topped their group with three wins out of three but they were frustrated in the opening 45 minutes as a defiant Japan kept the game goalless. The Japanese will look to attack down the flanks and their chances of success will hinge on how well they can supply midfielder Gaku Shibasaki. "There won't be any big surprises".
However, it would arguably be the biggest shock of the tournament so far - even more astonishing than Germany's elimination - if the Japanese eliminated the side now ranked third in the world by Federation Internationale de Football Association.
"I know Lukaku is a fantastic player and I can not stop him by myself".
Belgium came into that tournament on the back of being eliminated in the first round of 1998 World Cup as well as the 2000 Euro Cup (which they co-hosted), while Japan entered this tournament as the co-hosts of 2002 World Cup along with South Korea.
"The so-called "golden generation" weren't playing, only a few, and there were young players that showed they're ready to contribute", he said of his much-changed team. "We have to fight and defend as a group and attack as a group".
The Manchester United star is set to face Japan after missing the win over England with an ankle knock.
Germany sip from the 21st century World Cup chalice
South Korea , however, finished its campaign in Russian Federation on a high, scoring two goals in injury time. For South Korea to advance, it would have needed Mexico to beat Sweden.
Though Japan have consistently qualified for the finals since 1998, the quarter-finals are unchartered territory for the Asian side. Only introduced as a second-half substitute in the loss to Poland, his directness was badly missed early in the match in Volgograd.
Fellow sub Chadli grabbed a dramatic victor deep into stoppage time in the 94th minute finishing off a devastating counter-attack to break Japanese hearts.
With 25 minutes left, Martinez swapped Fellaini and Chadli for Dries Mertens and Yannick Carrasco, which sparked the Belgium response. "Belgium are a better team than us", Japan defender Yuto Nagatomo said in an interview with FIFA.com. As of the end of the group stages, only Spain were on a longer run amongst the 32 teams at the 2018 World Cup (23 games).
"This is a group of players that know what they are doing". And, with nine goals so far in Russia, Belgium are the World Cup's top-scoring team.
It was in the lead-up to the World Cup in Brazil four years ago that we first sat up and really took notice of the extraordinary depth of talent available to Marc Wilmots, and which only appeared set to become stronger with each passing tournament.
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