World Cup Preview – Round of 16 | Brazil v Mexico – Belgium v Japan

World Cup favourites Brazil look to book their place in the World Cup quarter-finals on Monday as they take on Mexico.

Belgium are also now one of the most fancied teams in Russia, in the last 16 they are taking on Japan.

Brazil struggled at times in the group stages before winning their group, and their coach Tite has tried to calm expectation levels.

“Expectations? We don’t live by expectations, we live by reality,” Tite said.

“(We live by) a team that mentally deals with the pressure, is balanced, that has replacement parts for important moments.

“You have to have a strong team. If the players didn’t have all this preparation then we’d surely not see this kind of performance.”

Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio admits they have a huge task to get past Brazil, who he believes are the best in the world.

“I hope we’ll manage to stand up to Brazil who are currently the strongest team in the world. We need to create problems for their defenders, and we have enough skills and good players to do it. I hope that the guys will cope with the pressure,” Osorio said.

The winner of Brazil-Mexico will play either Belgium or Japan in the last eight, with Roberto Martinez’s Red Devils hot favourites to progress.

But Martinez is full of respect for Japan and what they have to offer.

“They are footballers with an incredible energy and a great capacity to get really high up the pitch very quickly,” he said.

“This Japan team shows a lot of good experience, a lot of players who have played in big leagues in Europe for a long time. They know what it takes to win a game of this calibre.

“This is a group of players that know what they are doing. I expect a very difficult game. They are capable of creating problems due to the dynamic approach that they have.”

Japan coach Akira Nishino is looking forward to the challenge.

“They are both world-class teams,” he said. “It’s a great challenge for us to be faced against them… I’d like to play both of them because they will pose a fantastic challenge for us.”

See below for a preview on the games, including predictions from former England and Tottenham midfielder Andy Gray and our own Football Insider Graeme Bailey and bet365’s Steve Freeth.

Brazil 15:00 Mexico
Samara Arena, Samara

Alisson; Fagner, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Filipe Luis; Casemiro, Paulinho; Willian, Philippe Coutinho, Neymar, Gabriel Jesus

Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa; Miguel Layun, Hugo Ayala, Carlos Salcedo, Jesus Gallardo; Hector Herrera, Jonathan Dos Santos, Andres Guardado; Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez, Hirving Lozano

KEY FACT: In their long FIFA World Cup history, Mexico have only won once against South American opposition – a 2-1 victory over Ecuador at Korea/Japan 2002
Match odds from bet365: BRAZIL 1/2 DRAW 16/5 MEXICO 7/1
bet365 Pick: Brazil and Both Teams to Score @5.2
ANDY SAYS: Brazil will get through this, I don’t see Mexico troubling them…2-0
GRAEME SAYS: Impossible to not go with Brazil here, they will win this…3-1
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Neymar – the Index number one player, starting to hit form

Belgium 19:00 Japan
Rostov Arena, Rostov

Thibaut Courtois; Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld; Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco, Thomas Meunier; Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard; Romelu Lukaku

Japan: Eiji Kawashima; Hiroki Sakai, Maya Yoshida, Gen Shoji, Yuto Nagatomo; Makoto Hasebe, Gaku Shibasaki; Genki Haraguchi, Shinji Kagawa, Takashi Inui; Yuya Osako

KEY FACT: Belgium have lost just once to an Asian team at a World Cup finals
Match odds from bet365: BELGIUM 2/5 DRAW 15/4 JAPAN 9/1
bet365 Pick: 0-0 @11/1
ANDY SAYS: Belgium to get through here, shouldn’t have too many issues…3-1
GRAEME SAYS: I don’t see how Japan get near Belgium, and they won’t…4-0
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Eden Hazard – proving his quality in Russia

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