MATCHS DU JOUR 13
The eighth finals of the World Cup 2022 continue this Monday. First poster at 15 hours GMT between Japan and Croatia. Without doubt the most balanced eighth of this World Cup. That promises a beautiful battle.
Japan has wiped the slate clean and almost built a new team. Only Eiji Kawashima, Yuto Nagatomo, Maya Yoshida, Hiroki Sakai and Wataru Endo survived Russia 2018. It is therefore with an almost new squad that the Samurai Blue have enthused with two wins in the group stages against Germany and Spain. Against Croatia, the Japanese collective strength will have to be at 100% to fulfill the initial objective: go to the quarterfinals. Japan, a confusing team since the beginning of the competition, can really hope to go further.
To do so, Japan will be able to count on its architect, Hajime Moriyasu. The Japanese coach has proven to be a fine tactician in this World Cup. Against Germany, while his team was behind at the break (0-1), he made two changes and a tactical reorganization to upset the Germans and win 2-1. The same against Spain, where his three-man defense reshuffled at halftime, again with two players replaced. Japan, has already equaled the best performance of its history in the World Cup (1/8th final in 2002, 2010, 2018). It will therefore be unabashedly against the Croats. Especially that the Japanese, very attached to their culture and history, are inspired in particular by the Samurai, these traditional fighters of Japan who ruled between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries. "If they are afraid before going to fight, they will not be able to implement their technique. It's the same thing with soccer. If we come in with fear, we can't set up our game. We have to play with courage," Yuto Nagatomo told AFP.
Croatia an emphatic midfield
On the other side, Croatia is also advancing with its certainties in this World Cup 2022. In defense, Joško Gvardiol proves to be intractable. The 20 year old player from Leipzig is no stranger to defensive solidity since the beginning of the tournament (only 1 goal conceded). However, the main strength of the Vatreni ("The Flaming Ones") is their midfield.
Brozovic-Kovacic-Modric, these three players delight and often disgust their opponents. At the head of this trio is Luka Modric. The Croatian captain has 37 years on the clock but seems to have 27 so much he runs and distributes the Croatian game. The 2018 Golden Ball winner, runner-up in Russia four years ago, is probably playing in his last World Cup. Which is surely a natural motivation. However, the Croatians will have to show more. They remained silent in two of their three group matches (0-0 against Morocco and Belgium). In addition, they have a status to defend: that of finalist in 2018.