Japan Vs Belgium: The Best Football is Played in Under 90 Minutes


Japan Vs Belgium: The Best Football is Played in Under 90 Minutes

Illustration: Shruti Yatam


ast night’s Belgium vs Japan match had all the recipes for nail-biting drama: Japan, the only Asian team left in the World Cup, dialling up the pressure on Belgium; Belgium scripting a memorable comeback from two goals down and finishing off in style in the final seconds. Thrilling goals (including an unforgettable Fellaini header), solid defending, synced teamwork, and crushing heartbreak ensured the rapt attention of viewers. But most importantly, in the weekend of penalties, this electric knockout match — being hailed the best match of the World Cup so far — was an effective reminder of how some of the best football happens in under 90 minutes (and a little extra time).

Unlike South Korea, Japan, a steady and stable team, didn’t rely on theatrics. Qualifying for six consecutive World Cups, Japan were naturally reputed for playing disciplined football but they never looked threatening. They made it to the round of the 16 mostly due to this cautious approach (and a fair-play advantage) — but were never a swashbuckling crew. Last night’s game changed that: Japan set the pulses racing, outplaying Belgium, the dark horse, at every chance they got.