World Cup Preview | Croatia vs Japan

Group E winners Japan will take on the runners up from Group F and 2018 finalists Croatia in this last 16 tie.

Before the tournament, Group E seemed to be a foregone conclusion with two recent winners Spain and Germany both involved. Japan however not only qualified but beat both these European heavyweights to win the group to the shock of many.

Croatia progressed from group F on the final day after a goalless draw against Belgium. The former finalists have looked a shell of the side that nearly went all the way in Russia 2018, with an ageing Luka Modric who is still top class but not to his levels of 2018.

Japan while beating the two big teams in their group, lost to Costa Rice which begs the question if they are just a counter attacking side, and will Croatia give them the space to hit them on the break.

Japan have produced some incredibly memorable moments in this tournament and have looked good doing it, not many would have predicted they would qualify from that group, but here we are, now how far can they go?

Croatia predicted XI | Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovern, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Kramaric, Livaja, Perisic.

Japan predicted XI | Gonda; Tomiyasu, Itakura, Yoshida, Nagatomo; Endo, Morita; Doan, Kamada, Soma; Maeda.

Prediction | Croatia 1-2 Japan (After extra-time); Japan have impressed to date with their high energy attacks and resilience, I see them being too much for an old and tiring Croatia squad. Especially if Japan can pull the Europeans into the deep water that is extra-time.

Jonathan Maze | GWFN

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