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Qatar FIFA World Cup: Japan vs Croatia; who will advance to the quarters?
sokapro-Qatar FIFA World Cup: Japan vs Croatia; who will advance to the quarters?

Asia meets Europe in today's round of 16 knockout matches as Japan and Croatia show their might on the pitch at the Al Janoub Stadium.

The Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup runners-up Croatia will meet the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup ‘giant killers’ Japan at the Al Janoub stadium in Al Wakrah for the round of 16 knock-out matches. Japan remarkably finished top of their group ahead of football giants and former world champions Spain and Germany after beating them both in their group stage fixtures. Croatia also surprisingly were forced to settle for the second position after Morocco executed exemplary performance in the group stages to top their group. Ao Tanaka scored Japan's second goal in their 2-1 victory over Spain when he was in the right place at the right moment. Spain had earlier taken the lead against Japan before Moriyasu's halftime adjustments again paid off. Hajime Moriyasu's men had crashed Germany with the same scoreline in their first group-stage fixture.

Any team that beats the 2010 and 2014 world champions in one tournament no doubt deserves a place in the knockout rounds. Japan will be hoping that they can replicate the same performance against Croatia who were forced to settle for the second position in Russia in 2018 as they succumbed to a 4-2 beating at the hands of France. However, Japan are far from being a finished product as evident in their 1-0 loss to Costa Rica on matchday two. The Asian nation are still awaiting their first quarter-finals appearance Croatia might have been eliminated from the competition if Romelu Lukaku had been able to convert one of the numerous golden opportunities he squandered against Croatia, but the Chelsea attacker's wastefulness really benefited the 2018 world cup runners up. 

Croatia qualified to the knockout rounds by a skin of their teeth despite them putting four goals passed Canada and their game against Morocco ending in a 0-0 draw. Nevertheless, they now come to the round of 16 hoping they can reignite the spark they enjoyed in the last world cup that saw them go to the final match. The two nations have met in three world cups with Croatia having 1 win, Japan 1 win, and the remaining game ending in a draw. The match is anticipated to have a good number of entertaining goals but also a low-scoring affair is very much a possibility as experienced in other Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup matches. 

(Image: Khel now)