Belgium averaged three goals per game, and looked flashy even when playing mostly reserves against England in winning the last group game.
After reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup in 1990 and the last four of the European Championship on home soil six years later, a glowing clutch of blooming brilliance was expected to swiftly surpass those near misses and end the mounting years of hurt. In the last World Cup in Brazil, Belgium needed 120 minutes to get past United States of America in the Round of 16 in Salvador on July 1.
But a side who scraped through the group phase only by virtue of receiving fewer yellow cards than Senegal were finally undone in the final quarter of the game. Now it's up against arguably the most well-balanced and complete side in the competition.
Five minutes later, however, it was Marouane Fellaini, the classic Plan B, on for Dries Mertens, who headed in the leveller from Hazard's stellar assist. England registered 13 shots with only one being on goal. Alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, he was the only player in the group stages to score with his right foot, left foot and head.
Japan have already achieved plenty considering that the Japanese FA fired coach Vahid Halilhodzic two months before the World Cup, replacing him with Akira Nishino, the technical director of the country's soccer association.
DF Gen Shoji, 6 - The Kashima Antlers man stayed focused to help keep Lukaku as quiet as possible.
"I'm asked this question nearly every single day, in terms of a penalty shoot-out, of course, it's something that I need to decide", he said of the likely order of takers.
With nothing to lose Japan could well just etch their names into the history books with a win. This could produce a high-scoring contest.
"We played a very entertaining game in Bruges not long ago", he said.
Japan used a 4-4-2 formation in their last Group H match against Poland, and lost 1-0.
The Belgium squad consisted of ageing superstar and future Belgium manager Marc Wilmots, and future Bayern Munich star Daniel Van Buyten, while the Japanese squad consisted of Feyenoord star Shinji Ono, and legendary Asian player and the only player in Japan to be named in the Federation Internationale de Football Association 100 list, Hidetoshi Nakata.
Nishino must decide between Yoshinori Muto and Yuya Osako as his lone striker.
Takashi Inui then doubled the lead for the Blue Samurai four minutes later with a fantastic curling strike from outside the box to compound the pressure on the Belgium side.
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