FIFA World Cup 2022 Round of 16 : Croatia vs Japan Match Preview and Lineups

Croatia vs Japan Match
SCHEDULE TIME
GAME Croatia vs Japan
DATE 05/12/2022
TIME 08:30 PM (Indian Standard Time)
ARENA Al Bayt Stadium
LEAGUE FIFA World Cup 2022
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FULL TIME
Croatia [1-1] Japan | Croatia wins on penalties (3-1)

Match Preview of Croatia vs Japan

Resident World Cup 2022 giant killers Japan will endeavour to pull off another impressive scalp at the tournament when they tackle Croatia in Monday's last-16 clash at the Al Janoub Stadium.

Hajime Moriyasu's men remarkably finished first in Group E above Spain and Germany, while the 2018 runners-up were forced to settle for second in Group F behind Morocco.

It was camera angles galore when Ao Tanaka found himself in the right place at the right time to prod home Japan's second goal in their 2-1 win over Spain, who had taken the lead against the Asian nation before Moriyasu's half-time substitutions paid dividends once more.

Alvaro Morata took just 11 minutes to break the deadlock for Spain before substitute Ritsu Doan's venomous leveller, and fellow half-time change Kaoru Mitoma just about managed to keep the ball in play for Tanaka to settle the contest and book Japan's last-16 place in dramatic fashion.

Any team that beats the 2010 and 2014 world champions in one tournament no doubt deserves a place in the knockout rounds, and Japan have finally broken their cycle of a last-16 place followed by a group stage exit, having also got to the knockout phase in Russia four years ago.

The Samurai Blue are far from the finished product, as evidenced by their disappointing 1-0 loss to Costa Rica on matchday two, but they could now set up an all-Asian quarter-final with South Korea, although their near neighbours must first eliminate Brazil in their last-16 battle.

Japan are still waiting for their first quarter-final appearance at a World Cup and are no strangers to having their backs against the wall - averaging just 32.3% possession in Qatar so far - and Moriyasu's super subs must continue to prove as effective as ever if history is to be made on Monday.

Had Romelu Lukaku been able to finish one of the plethora of gilt-edged chances he inexplicably wasted against Croatia, the Chequered Ones could very well have been heading out of the competition, but the Chelsea attacker's profligacy worked in their favour to the extreme.

Steadfast defending from in-demand RB Leipzig starlet Josko Gvardiol also helped get Zlatko Dalic's side over the line in a 0-0 draw, which saw the 2018 runners-up finish second in Group F behind Morocco and qualify for the knockout rounds by the skin of their teeth.

Putting four goals past Canada is all well and good for Croatia - as is their stellar defensive record, with just one goal conceded in the tournament so far - but they have already failed to score in as many games at this World Cup as they had done in their previous 13 matches.

Our Predicted Lineups

Croatia possible starting lineup:Gonda; Tomiyasu, Taniguchi, Yoshida; Ito; Morita, Tanaka, Nagatomo; Doan, Maeda, Kamada

Japan possible starting lineup: starting lineup:Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa; Kovacic, Brozovic, Modric; Kramaric, Livaja, Perisic

Who will win the match?

We say: Japan 1-1 Croatia (a.e.t, Croatia advance on penalties). With a penchant for lightning quick counter-attacks and a wealth of players in reserve waiting to make a difference, Japan have every right to feel that another shock is on the cards, and finding a consistent attacking formula has not been on the agenda for Croatia. While we do expect the Samurai Blue to make the net ripple, trying to score more than once may prove to be a fruitless endeavour against a dogged Dalic-led defence, and we would not be surprised to see this one decided from 12 yards as Croatia deny Japan a first-ever quarter-final appearance.

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