Dries Mertens has warned Belgium against the perils of complacency as they prepare to face Japan on Monday with one eye on a possible quarter-final showdown with Brazil.
The Belgians have emerged as dark horses at this World Cup, with their “Golden Generation” of players tipped to mount a deep run into the knockout rounds.
Roberto Martinez’s side defeated England 1-0 in their last outing to top Group G, earning what on paper should be a straightforward last 16 assignment against Japan.
But Mertens says the Red Devils are wary of a possible repeat of their Euro 2016 quarter-final, when they crashed to a 3-1 defeat to Wales despite being favoured to progress.
“I remember the Wales game. Everyone thought we were going to go through, no problem. And then suddenly, we’re out of the tournament,” Mertens said.
He added: “We’re not going to under-estimate Japan because they have a strong team. If they have got this far, it means they’re a good side.”
After making nine changes for last Thursday’s win over England, Martinez is expected to revert to the line-up which impressed in one-sided wins over Panama and Tunisia.
With nine goals so far in Russia, Belgium are the World Cup’s top-scoring team.
Striker Romelu Lukaku (pictured) has claimed four with two against both Tunisia and Panama in the group stages.
The Manchester United star is set to face Japan after missing the win over England with an ankle knock. -AFP