The Round of 16 rolls along Monday morning when surprise group winner Japan plays, the 2018 World Cup runners-up, Croatia. Entering the final matchday, many people thought Japan would be eliminated, but they pulled off a surprising result and won Group E. Croatia looked impressive in their group play but finished second in Group F. Below is my World Cup pick for Japan vs Croatia.
Japan vs Croatia Betting Pick
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This game will be played at Al Janoub Stadium at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, December 5, 2022.
✅ Both teams were impressive in the group stage and seem even matched.
✅ Croatia should control the midfield and can slow down the Japanese counterattack.
✅ Japan is full of energy and will tire out an older Croatian squad.
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Last time out, Japan finished off their group stage play with an impressive 2-1 win over Spain. This finished off a group stage that saw Japan beat Spain and Germany but lose to Costa Rica. The World Cup never ceases to entertain.
Spain got on the board first thanks to an Alvaro Morata header in the 11th minute. Japan did not put their head down and they came roaring back early in the second half. Ritsu Doan tied the game up with a beauty of a goal in the 48th minute and just three minutes later Ao Tanka tapped the ball in to give the Samurai Blue the win.
What a fantastic win for Japan and they now have a golden opportunity to make the quarterfinals.
Croatia clinched their spot in the knockout stages with a scoreless draw against Belgium. A Morocco win over Canada, couple with this draw, meant Croatia finished second in the tight Group F.
The Croatians were the more impressive team on the day, but they were lucky that Romelu Lukaku did not have his finishing boots, or head, ready for this one. The Belgian striker missed three golden opportunities to score and that ultimately secured the Croatian advancement.
Both Japan and Croatia will be happy with their Round of 16 draw.