With their “Golden Generation” of players, Belgium have emerged as the dark horses of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia. The Red Devils would like to continue their fine run of form when they lock horns with Japan in their Round of 16 encounter at the Rostov Arena on Monday.
However, Dries Mertens has warned Belgium against the perils of complacency with one eye on a possible quarter-final showdown with Brazil. Roberto Martinez’s side defeated England 1-0 in their last outing to top Group G, earning what on paper should be a straightforward last 16 assignment against Japan.
But Mertens says the Red Devils are wary of a possible repeat of their Euro 2016 quarter-final, when they crashed to a 3-1 defeat to Wales despite being favoured to progress.
“I remember the Wales game,” Mertens said. “Everyone thought we were going to go through, no problem. And then suddenly, we’re out of the tournament.
“We’re not going to under-estimate Japan because they have a strong team. If they have got this far, it means they’re a good side.”
After making nine changes for last Thursday’s win over England, Martinez is expected to revert to the line-up which impressed in one-sided wins over Panama and Tunisia.
Round of 16 : 7/2,
2 July : 2018