In the 1/8 final between Japan and Belgium, the outside world and fans agreed before the match that it would be a one-sided match. Because among the teams in the round of 16, the European Red Devils have the third odds of winning the title, while Japan is at the bottom. In the group stage, Belgium sang all the way to the round of 16 with a record of three wins, while Japan stumbled. At the last moment, it was with the help of Lady Luck that the group qualified. Therefore, the overall strength gap between the two teams is still relatively obvious.
But it was such a Japanese team, which was not favored by the outside world, that drove the third in the world to a corner, and almost sent them back to their hometown. In the first half, Japan focused on stability and started defensively, effectively limiting Belgium's attack. At the beginning of the second half, the Japanese team immediately switched to attack and launched a rapid and violent attack. In 4 minutes, Genki Haraguchi and Kanguiji took two consecutive cities to lead Belgium 2-0. I believe that many fans could not imagine such a scene before the game. But in the ensuing matches, Belgium, who had a strong team, showed great dominance. Fairhenton, Fellaini and Chadley scored goals to help Belgium beat Japan 3-2 and advance to the last eight.
Judging by the performance of this match, the Japanese team is only one step away from setting a team all-time record. Japan has reached the last 16 of the World Cup three times before, but each time it stopped at the round of 16. Against Belgium, Japan led by two goals, which gave the Blue Samurai a great opportunity to set a team's all-time record. Unfortunately, this opportunity that has been waiting for four years is fleeting. Let the Japanese team, which played almost the whole game, collapse before the final whistle.
Although they lost the match and failed to advance to the quarter-finals, the performance of the Japanese team definitely deserved the phrase "despite defeat". This can be seen in the data. Japan is no worse than Belgium in terms of possession, number of passes, tackles, and number of free kicks. Asian football has always performed poorly on the big stage of the World Cup. One of the important reasons is that Asian players are at a clear disadvantage in physical confrontation, and their skills are not as good as those of European and South American players. Today's Japanese team has pushed Asian football to a new level, whether it is physical confrontation or technical tactics, the Japanese team has achieved the extreme.