Both matches today will feature nations from Asia — Japan plays Croatia after defeating Germany and Spain in the group stage, and South Korea challenges the nation with the most championships in history, Brazil.
Japan vs Croatia
Date: 5 Dec 2022 (Monday)
Time: 15:00 GMT
Venue: Al Janoub Stadium
Japan is playing against yet another European opponent, Croatia, in the round of 16. It will be interesting to see if the manager Hajime Moriyasu changes his starting 11 following the performances of his players in the group stages. Ritsu Dōan, who scored against both Germany and Spain, will be eyeing a starting spot in this match, and Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma, who played well as substitute, is also in consideration to start.
There are no new injuries reported from the Japanese, apart from Hiroki Sakai who damaged his hamstring against Germany but recovered to feature as an unused substitute in the final group match against Spain.
After making it all the way to the final in World Cup 2018, the Chequered Ones have once again qualified for the Round of 16, but only as group runner-up. Apart from the 4-1 victory against Canada, Croatia has recorded 0-0 scorelines in both of its other matches (Morocco and Belgium). Andrej Kramarić, who is currently the top scorer, is looking forward to extending his scoring record with the help of Luka Modrić and Ivan Perišić.
One of Croatia’s advantages is its stability. There was only one change in the starting lineups throughout the three group matches. With no new injuries reported from the team, Manager Zlatko Dalić is expected to field the same starting 11 in this match.
Prediction: Japan 2-1 Croatia
Brazil vs South Korea
Date: 5 Dec 2022 (Monday)
Time: 9 p.m. (Qatar time, GMT +3)
Venue: Stadium 974
Brazil has faced a series of injury setbacks throughout this World Cup. Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus and Sevilla’s Alex Telles (on loan from Man United) are the latest names added to the injury list, each expected to miss the rest of the tournament. With these two depth players out, the health of first 11 is crucial to the long-term success of the squad. According to the manager Tite, Neymar and Danilo will most likely “feature” in this match, but Alex Sandro is still in his recovery process.
Brazil lost the final group match, but that was after fielding ten changes from the A-team in order to rest the regular starters. When they have started their first team, no opponent has managed even a shot on target. After the humiliating 1-7 defeat against Germany in World Cup 2014, Brazil now focuses on tactical discipline and game management, and we saw the results of that in MD-1 & MD-2.
Opponent South Korea scored late in the last match against Portugal, and with that dramatic victory qualified for the Round of 16 ahead of Uruguay on the basis of a goals-scored advantage. Napoli center-back Kim Min-jae went out injured in that game, replaced by Kwon Kyung-won. Manager Paulo Bento is yet to update the status of Kim Min-jae, which leaves a question mark on South Korea’s starting lineup.
Tottenham’s Son Heung-min will continue to wear his protective mask in the game, while South Korea’s attackers Cho Gue-sung and Hwang Hee-chan will benefit from his linkup play.
Prediction: Brazil 3-0 South Korea
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Stats and info for this article were sourced from fifa.com