On Monday afternoon, Japan and Croatia go head-to-head in the last 16 of the World Cup as both teams look to seal their spots in the quarter-finals of the competition.Japan form guide
The Blue Samurai were something of the surprise package in Group E, as they finished top of the standings ahead of Spain and Germany, with the latter eliminated from the competition.
Beating both European giants 2-1 in the group stages of the competition has certainly been the highlight of a campaign in which Japan have proven their quality, spirit and tenacity.
Despite the memorable wins, Japan still has a poor recent record in the World Cup, winning just three of their last 11 matches in the competition, with two of those wins being their victories in Group E.Croatia form guide
Zlatko Dalic’s team finished second place in Group F of the World Cup, behind surprise group winners Morocco. Croatia won just one of their three group games, as they defeated Canada 4-1, with the other two group games producing draws.
A goalless draw against Belgium in their final group game means that Croatia has now kept clean sheets in three of their last four international matches. The clean sheets have contributed to there being under 2.5 goals scored in three of their previous four matches too.
Despite finishing as runners-up in the last World Cup, Croatia has won just one of their previous seven games in the competition in normal time.Latest team news
Japan heads into this game without Ko Itakura due to suspension. They have no new injury problems, however. Croatia have no injury problems and could start with the same starting eleven as last time out.What am I backing?
This is a tough one to call, as we have seen so many shocks in the tournament. I do believe this could be a tight contest, though, so I am backing under 2.5 goals scored.