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Japan's fresher legs give them a chance against Belgium:The Asahi Shimbun

04 July, 2018, 08:48 | Author: Drew Briggs
  • Belgium 2018 FIFA World Cup Dries Mertens

With Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi both eliminated from the World Cup on Saturday, this tournament now has a superstar void.

I already ran through his unbelievable worldwide goalscoring record the last time we took the piss out of him, and he added another last night as Brazil overcame Mexico 2-0 on their way to the quarters. "I am happy, because we have a lot of good young players, and now it is their turn to write the history of Japanese football".

The Samurai Blue of Japan were eliminated from World Cup play on Monday.

"We asked visitors to watch the game calmly but everyone, myself included, couldn't help but jump and shout when Japan scored", the priest, Taiko Ishida, told AFP.

Meanwhile, Spanish club Real Betis will feel vindicated for their signing of Japan's breakout star Takashi Inui. We are not favourites to the World Cup.

"I'm so frustrated", 32-year-old Ryota Iwakiri said bitterly, trying to comprehend the sudden collapse, as others around him tried to hold back tears.

Germany v South Korea
Loew's side began their campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Mexico before rekindling their bid with a last-gasp 2-1 win over Sweden. Germany now needs to beat South Korea by at least two goals to be guaranteed a spot in the last 16.

However, Japan has exceeded expectations in group play and could be a tough out in the knockout stage.

"We had talked about the score being even if and when I entered the game, but I couldn't come through", said Honda.

The victor of that tie will go on to face the victor of Monday's other game, which sees Belgium meet Japan in Rostov-on-Don (1800 GMT). "Let's dream about the Japanese national team together".

Former Japan worldwide Daisuke Ichikawa believed Belgium enjoyed a big slice of luck with their first goal, Jan Vertonghen's looping header from 20 yards, while ex-captain Ryuzo Morioka said: "They (Japan) shocked the world". A host of key players were rested for the 1-0 victory against England, including Hazard, Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne, but they will return here.

Japan likewise might have felt unlucky on Tuesday morning, but they only made it to the second round because they had fewer yellow cards in the group stage than Senegal. "Obviously unbelievable people. Japan always brings a breath of fresh air to the World Cup". I know we have a chance, but I also know that it is very complicated to stop them, not just Neymar.

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