Japan vs Croatia FIFA LIVE Football Score 05/12/2022
Resident World Cup 2022 giant killers Japan will endeavour to pull off another impressive scalp at the tournament when they tackle Croatia in Monday’s last-16 clash at the Al Janoub Stadium. Hajime Moriyasu’s men remarkably finished first in Group E above Spain and Germany, while the 2018 runners-up were forced to settle for second in Group F behind Morocco. It was camera angles galore when Ao Tanaka found himself in the right place at the right time to prod home Japan’s second goal in their 2-1 win over Spain, who had taken the lead against the Asian nation before Moriyasu’s half-time substitutions paid dividends once more. Alvaro Morata took just 11 minutes to break the deadlock for Spain before substitute Ritsu Doan’s venomous leveller, and fellow half-time.
Change Kaoru Mitoma just about managed to keep the ball in play for Tanaka to settle the contest and book Japan’s last-16 place in dramatic fashion. Any team that beats the 2010 and 2014 world champions in one tournament no doubt deserves a place in the knockout rounds, and Japan have finally broken their cycle of a last-16 place followed by a group stage exit, having also got to the knockout phase in Russia four years ago. The Samurai Blue are far from the finished product, as evidenced by their disappointing 1-0 loss to Costa Rica on matchday two, but they could now set up an all-Asian quarter-final with South Korea, although their near neighbours must first eliminate Brazil in their last-16 battle.
Japan are still waiting for their first quarter-final appearance at a World Cup and are no strangers to having their backs against the wall – averaging just 32.3% possession in Qatar so far – and Moriyasu’s super subs must continue to prove as effective as ever if history is to be made on Monday. Had Romelu Lukaku been able to finish one of the plethora of gilt-edged chances he inexplicably wasted against Croatia, the Chequered Ones could very well have been heading out of the competition, but the Chelsea attacker’s profligacy worked in their favour to the extreme. Steadfast defending from in-demand RB Leipzig starlet Josko Gvardiol also helped get Zlatko Dalic’s side over the line in a 0-0 draw, which saw the 2018 runners-up finish second in Group F behind Morocco and qualify for the knockout rounds by the skin of their teeth.
Putting four goals past Canada is all well and good for Croatia – as is their stellar defensive record, with just one goal conceded in the tournament so far – but they have already failed to score in as many games at this World Cup as they had done in their previous 13 matches. Nevertheless, the Chequered Ones now come into the last-16 clash on a nine-game unbeaten run across all tournaments and progressed from both of their previous ties at this stage of the competition, but Dalic’s side can take nothing for granted against the counter-attacking machine that is Japan. Since suffering a 4-3 loss in their first meeting with Japan 25 years ago, Croatia have since beaten the Samurai Blue at the 1998 World Cup before playing out a goalless draw in the 2006 edition, and yet another low-scoring affair in Qatar is not beyond the realm of possibility in this last-16 showdown.
Japan manager Moriyasu witnessed defender Ko Itakura pick up his second yellow card of the World Cup in the win over Spain, meaning that he will be suspended for the last-16 battle, so Takehiro Tomiyasu should come in to deputise after also performing well off the bench in midweek. Stuttgart midfielder Wataru Endo shook off a fitness concern to come on as a substitute in that game, and right-back Hiroki Sakai has also rejoined training, but Takefusa Kubo is a fresh doubt due to muscular discomfort. Not for the first time in Qatar, the Japan boss is facing the best kind of selection dilemma in the final third, where Doan has surely done enough to come in for the stricken Kubo, but Mitoma’s efforts may not be enough to edge out Daichi Kamada.
As for Croatia, Dalic is unsure if left-back Borna Sosa will be available for the contest as the Stuttgart man battles a fever, while fellow defender Josip Stanisic is set to miss out with a muscular problem. Dalic should otherwise have all of his options available, but veteran pair Luka Modric and Dejan Lovren will miss any potential quarter-final if they are booked here. Neither man will lose their place in the XI here, though, with Dalic set to stick with his tried-and-tested 4-3-3 formula, but there could be scope for a change or two in the final third. Andrej Kramaric and Marko Livaja both failed to shine in the goalless draw with Belgium, and Dalic is not short of options in attack, where Bruno Petkovic, Mislav Orsic, Nikola Vlasic and Mario Pasalic are all vying for opportunities.
Not many would have predicted that the Samurai Blue would beat both Spain and Germany to top Group E in qualifying for the knockouts, but so impressive has the team been that not many would now raise an eyebrow if Japan was to progress to the quarterfinals for the first time in its history. Japan plays 2018 finalist Croatia in the last 16 at the Al Janoub Stadium on Monday at 10 a.m. E.T. in the first of two last 16 games on the day, with the later match featuring tournament favorite Brazil and South Korea.
Can previous meetings between these two countries help give us a sense of what may happen on Monday? Perhaps not. Since 1997, they have played each other three times, with Japan winning a friendly 4-3, but losing to Croatia in the group stage at France 1998. At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the two teams played out a 0-0 draw. According to sports data company Gracenote, Croatia has a 58% chance of winning this match, while Japan’s chances stand at 42%. But Croatia is a possession-based team, which might suit Japan given it beat Germany and Spain with 17.7% and 26.1% possession respectively.
Dalić added: “They will apply the samurai warrior philosophy. So will we. If we want to go further, we must apply that same attitude, do our best and never underestimate anyone. “Japan have the least ball possession in the world, but they make great transition. This is the most perseverant, persistent opponent. They simply do not give up. We have a similar mentality, Japan and Croatia. We stand on equal ground.” On paper, the day’s other knockout match is easier to predict as five-time champion Brazil takes on South Korea at Stadium 974 in Doha.
Though Brazil lost to Cameroon 1-0 in its last group match, it is still the overwhelming favorite to progress to the quarterfinals, where either Japan or Croatia will await. With progress to the knockout stages already secured, manager Tite made nine changes to the team that won 1-0 against Switzerland, which could account for the country’s first loss to an African nation in a World Cup. Though that should not take anything away from Cameroon’s performance.
A dramatic 2-1 comeback win over Portugal, with Hwang Hee-chan scoring the added-time winner, secured South Korea’s spot in the last 16. Prior to that match, the Taegeuk Warriors had only won one of their previous 11 World Cup matches. Victory for South Korea this time, however, would be monumental, especially as it seems likely star forward Neymar will be fit to play after recovering from an ankle injury.
Son Heung-min celebrates victory over Portugal.
But the tournament favorite has suffered a number of injuries to key players in Qatar, with Alex Telles’ knee injury against Cameroon leaving Brazil short of full backs. Telles and forward Gabriel Jesus were ruled out for the rest of the tournament by the Brazilian FA on Saturday, while it is unclear when usual starting full backs Danilo and Alex Sandro will recover from their injuries. The two countries have never played each other at a World Cup, but have met seven times – Brazil winning six times and South Korea winning once in 1999. Their most recent encounter was in June in Seoul, which Brazil won 5-1.
But as the only Asian country to have reached a World Cup semifinal, South Korea has pedigree – and it also has Tottenham star Son Heung-min, its talisman and one of best players in the English Premier League. South Korea’s Portuguese coach Paulo Bento told reporters Sunday: “We’re up against world-class players, we are not intimidated. In our squad, we have world-class players. “One match, it’s not an entire tournament, we have one chance … Most important is we show we are a team that wants to win, wants to compete and fight until the last whistle.”