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Kompany starts as Belgium, Japan ring changes at World Cup

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Belgium’s defender Vincent Kompany stands up after his shot on goal was blocked by Japan’s goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima (R) during the Russia 2018 World Cup round of 16 football match between Belgium and Japan at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-On-Don on July 2, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ /

Vincent Kompany was set to make his first start at the World Cup on Monday in one of 10 changes for Belgium against Japan, who also switched six players for the last-16 clash.

The winner of the knockout match in Rostov will face Brazil, who earlier beat Mexico 2-0, in a quarter-final in Kazan on Friday.

As expected, Belgium coach Roberto Martinez made wholesale changes from the side that beat England 1-0 in the group stages.

He reverted mainly to the same starting line-up that thrashed Tunisia 5-2, with Manchester City defender Kompany as the only new addition, in for Dedryck Boyata at centre-back.

Striker Romelu Lukaku, who has scored four goals so far in Russia, returned to lead Belgium’s star-studded attack.

Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens and Kevin De Bruyne were restored in a powerful midfield after being rested against England.

Japan coach Akira Nishino also revamped his starting line-up after the 1-0 defeat to Poland in the group stages.

The team controversially ran down the clock to qualify at Senegal’s expense because of their superior fair-play record.

Japan are bidding to reach the quarter-finals at a World Cup for the first time in their history.

Belgium

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

Coach: Roberto Martinez (ESP)

Japan

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

Coach: Akira Nishino (JPN)

Referee: Malang Diedhiou (SEN)

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