Belgium’s victory over England on Thursday has set them up with a second round tie versus Japan on Monday.
Japan have the longest odds to win the World Cup among the bookmakers of the 16 nations to qualify for the second round and that is reflected in the odds for this game alone.
Akira Nishino’s side only won one of their group games – that was 2-1 in the opener versus Colombia in which the South American nation had a player sent off after 3 minutes and ended up topping the group.
Japan drew 2-2 with Senegal and then lost 1-0 to already-eliminated Poland, only reaching the second round because they received two fewer yellow cards than the African nation who also finished on four points.
It’s hard to judge this Belgium side. They have the players to go all the way, and I really can see them doing so even if Brazil could await in the quarter-finals. However, they have only faced lowly Tunisia and Panama with their first team, as both they and England fielded weakened sides for their final game.
That does mean Roberto Martinez’s side are well rested though! Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens all looked in mighty form in their two games and could all be the match winner versus this Japan side. Michy Batshuayi has also got into plenty of goalscoring chances in his appearances, but his finishing touch hasn’t quite been there.
I’m with the bookmakers on this one in expecting a comfortable Belgium victory and safely into the second round.
Dead cert: Belgium to win is 1.41 with Betfair
Value bet: Belgium to win -1.5 goals is 2.28 with Betfair