Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

Belgium players raring to go after England rest - Martinez

World Cup 2018 Brazil vs Mexico Round Of 16 When And Where To Watch Live Coverage On TV Live Streaming Online Mexico's last-16 misfortunes have often come down to the finest of margins
Tamara Craig | 03 July, 2018, 00:45

A Japanese fan cries after the end of the game between Japan and Belgium in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Monday. Belgium may have pushed aside all in their way during the group stages but Japan also deserved to qualify from what was perhaps the most evenly spread group in terms of competition.

With a lineup of superstars headlined by the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin DeBruyne, Belgium was the strong favorite heading into the match and regarded by many, as a true contender to reach the July 15 final.

"We have the same level of maturity across the team, which will make a difference this time".

"We are not looking at the path", Martinez said.

"We need to go step-by-step, but I think that we can face anyone that we've got in front of us", coach Roberto Martinez told reporters.

Belgium should have a refreshed starting XI after they rested nine players in their final group game against England having already qualified with convincing victories over Panama and Tunisia.

Both teams fought a tight midfield battle but their forwards froze in the area and Belgium's wide players, Meunier and Yannick Carrasco, did not take risks going forward, effectively turning a 3-4-3 formation into a more conservative 5-2-3 system. While Belgium have threatened to impact the global scene for some time, they haven't quite delivered up to their full potential.

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They met at the World Cup before back in 2012 with both teams drawing 2-2. I think in essence [the team] is exactly the same, footballers with an incredible, incredible energy...

But Mertens says the Red Devils are wary of a possible repeat of their Euro 2016 quarter-final, when they crashed to a 3-1 loss to Wales despite being favoured to progress.

"We have created a good atmosphere, but at this stage we are now faced with a new challenge, a new atmosphere, very different from the group stage", he said.

Akira Nishino's side could have settled for taking the tie into extra time but instead they were punished for taking a chance on a last corner kick, and Chadli, another substitute, finished off the move.

"They know what it takes to win".

The team captain continued to outlay his thoughts to the Japanese media saying, "We have gone through so much in this past two months, including a sudden coach change".

While Japan are beatable, there's no knowing which team will show up for Sunday's game.

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