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02 Jul 2018

Belgium vs Japan: 5 things to look forward to

Belgium vs Japan: 5 things to look forward to

Group H table-toppers Belgium get their knockout campaign underway when they meet Japan in the last 16.

Reuters/LEE SMITH

Belgium head into the knockout phases fresh from collecting all nine available points on offer in Group H after beating England 1-0 in the final round of games. 

Roberto Martinez's side have been in searing form in Russia so far, scoring nine goals, the highest amount in the group stage. 

The safety net of having already qualified for the knockout phase after their second match afforded Martinez the opportunity to rest several key players. 

For Japan, the luck of the draw was very much on their side. 

Heading into the final round of matches, Japan were in pole position and only needed a draw to progress. In the dying stages of their match with Poland, Japan kept the ball with their defence, aware that Colombia's goal against Senegal had them qualifying in second place. 

The gamble paid off, though it won't have pleased many neutrals. 

The Belgians will be rampant, and Akira Nishino's men will have their work cut out on Monday. Here are five things to look forward to: