Japan predicted lineup vs Croatia - World Cup

Grey Whitebloom
Hajime Moriyasu was Japan's assistant manager when they reached the round of 16 in 2018
Hajime Moriyasu was Japan's assistant manager when they reached the round of 16 in 2018 / Jam Media/GettyImages

The World Cup's comeback kids Japan go toe-to-toe with Croatia in the round of 16 on Monday afternoon.

Japan's against-the-odds victories over Germany and Spain were made all the more impressive by the fact that the European powerhouses took the lead in each game.

In the space of three group matches, Japan became just the third team in the history of the men's World Cup to come from behind to win twice at the same tournament (following Brazil in 1938 and West Germany in 1970).

Here's the lineup Hajime Moriyasu may deploy in the hope that his side won't need to rely upon their powers of recovery.

Japan predicted lineup vs Croatia (3-4-3)

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022"Japan - Spain"
Japan's captain, Maya Yoshida, became the seventh player to make 100 appearances for the men's national team during the World Cup / ANP/GettyImages

GK: Shuichi Gonda - The sole footballer in a family that leans towards basketball, Gonda has at least given a nod to his family's preference by playing in the only position which allows the use of your hands.

CB: Takehiro Tomiyasu - Arsenal's rugged defender has seen his involvement hampered by injury but could be fit enough to plug the gap left by Ko Itakura's suspension.

CB: Maya Yoshida - The former Southampton centre-back released his autobiography Unbeatable Mind, detailing the Saints' relegation battle ahead of the previous World Cup. Japan's sensational group-stage display may warrant a few extra chapters.

CB: Hiroki Ito - Less than 18 months ago, Ito was playing in the Japanese second tier. A swift ascent up Stuttgart's pecking order after his loan deal in 2021 has led to his call-up.

RWB: Junya Ito - Some may have been surprised by Japan's heroics in Qatar but Ito was confident long before the tournament kicked off. "As a team, we’re targeting the quarter-finals as a minimum so either way, we’re going to have to beat Spain and Germany.”

CM: Wataru Endo - The Minecraft fan isn't his national team's skipper but Stuttgart's captain has been highlighted as an able leader since he was given the armband as a teenager at Shonan Bellmare.

CM: Ao Tanaka - One of the few only children in Japan's squad was left on the bench against Costa Rica. The match-winner against Spain hasn't lost a competitive game for his country since 2019.

LWB: Yuto Nagatomo - The veteran fullback has started every game in Qatar but been dragged off within ten minutes of half-time in each of them, effectively reducing his second-half role to that of chief cheerleader when Japan launch a comeback, leading the substitutes' charge onto the pitch.

RW: Ritsu Doan - Since 2002, Japanese substitutes had combined to score two World Cup goals. Doan has already matched that tally in the group stages, scoring against Germany and Spain from the bench.

ST: Takuma Asano - The self-styled "Jaguar" dusted off his signature jungle cat celebration against Germany. Asano's only other goal this season was against German fourth-tier side Viktoria 1889.

LW: Daichi Kamada - Yet to get off the mark in Qatar, Kamada has been averaging a goal or assist every 96 minutes for Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga this season.

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