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Japan vs Croatia live: World Cup score and updates

Credit…Gabriel Bouys/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Croatia and Japan meet on Monday in a World Cup rarity: a knockout tie without one of the big hitters.

That’s not to say Croatia and Japan don’t have pedigree: Croatia, after all, had an unlikely run to the final in 2018 before losing 4-2 to France. while Japan reached the knockout stage for the fourth time.

But in a round of 16 where the winners so far are the Netherlands, Argentina, France and England, a game between teams who still have 40-1 and 80-1 chances of win the whole tournament, stands out.

Croatia managed to get this far despite two 0-0 draws, against Morocco and a lackluster Belgium, sandwiched around an easy win over Canada. Luka Modric, player of the tournament four years ago, is 37 now but is still part of the squad full of veterans. The top scorer so far, with two goals, is Andrej Kramaric.

Japan’s performances in the World Cup have been disconcerting. He first beat pre-tournament favorites Germany. Then they lost to Costa Rica, perhaps the weakest team on the pitch, who had lost their previous game 7-0. Japan looked doomed after trailing Spain 1-0 but fought back to win the game and the group.

Japan likes to run fast and pass fast in a relentless style that can wear down opponents. His top scorer, with two goals, is Ritsu Doan.

The winner of this game receives a great reward: a place in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. And also a not so great reward: in all likelihood a game against Brazil.

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