Hosts Russia take on Croatia in Sochi on Saturday night with the winner going on to face either Sweden or England in the semi-finals. The hosts beat Spain on penalties in the round of 16, while Croatia also won on spot-kicks against Denmark.
Indeed, Russia managed to beat Spain despite only having 21% of possession in the game and allowing Fernando Hierro’s side to muster up over 1,000 passes in the game. However, it came down to penalties and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was their hero, making saves from both Koke and Iago Aspas, the latter proving decisive and the better of the two as it was off his foot. Russia will be well rested ahead of their quarter final clash, despite having run further than every other team in the competition.
Croatia drew with Denmark 1-1 over the course of 120 minutes, before Ivan Rakitic scored the winning penalty. This was their worst performance of the tournament so far and they won’t want to repeat it in the quarter final. They do, however, have plenty of experience in their ranks, with Rakitic lining up alongside Luka Modric in midfield, while Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic will be looked upon for goals. This is their best tournament since their debut in 1998 when they finished third.
Russia vs. Croatia Predictions
If Croatia play as badly as they did against Denmark, then Russia have a very good chance of making it through to the semi-finals. However, I can’t see them being that poor again and I’d expect them to beat Russia in 90 minutes in a low-scoring game.
Russia vs. Croatia Betting Tips
Head to Head
- Russia and Croatia have faced each other three times previously, with two of those ending goalless in qualifiers for Euro 2008. Croatia won the other meeting in November 2015, a 3-1 victory in a friendly in Rostov, with Mario Mandzukic scoring Croatia’s third goal.
- Russia have reached the quarter final of the W. Cup for the first time since the breakup of the Soviet Union, as the USSR. They reached the quarter final in four consecutive World Cups between 1958 and 1970.
- Croatia won their only other W. Cup quarter final, defeating Germany in 1998 on their way to that year’s semi-finals, when they were eliminated.
- The last five host nations to feature in a W. Cup quarter final have all progressed to the semi final (Italy 1990, France 1998, South Korea 2002, Germany 2006 and Brazil 2014).
- Croatia have scored as many goals in four matches at this year’s W. Cup (8) as they did in six games in their previous two W. Cup appearances in 2006 and 2014 combined.
- Russia had 10 shots on target in their first two 2018 W. Cup games. They have managed just two in their last two matches, with one of those a penalty (Artem Dzyuba vs. Spain).
- After keeping clean sheets in both of their opening games at this W. Cup, Croatia have conceded once in each of their last two matches. They haven’t conceded a goal in three consecutive matches at the same W. Cup tournament since 2002, when they failed to keep a clean sheet in all three of their matches.
- Croatia have only lost one of their seven W. Cup matches against fellow European opposition (W5 D1), while Russia have never beaten a European team at the W. Cup (D1 L3), although they did eliminate Spain on penalties in the last 16 of this tournament after a 1-1 draw.
- 10 of Croatia’s last 12 W. Cup goals have come in the second halves of their games.
- Mario Mandzukic scored his third W. Cup goal for Croatia against Denmark in the last round. Only Davor Suker (6) has scored more for them at the W. Cup.
- Artem Dzyuba has been directly involved in four of Russia’s last seven goals at the 2018 W. Cup (three goals, one assist), scoring both of their last two.
- Croatia have faced the host nation at the W. Cup twice previously, losing both matches against France in 1998 (1-2 in semi-final) and Brazil in 2014 (1-3 in group stage).
Russia Team News
Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Gabulov (Brugge), Andrei Lunev (Zenit St. Petersburg), Vladimir Granat (Rubin Kazan), Fedor Kudryashov (Rubin Kazan), Ilya Kutepov (Spartak Moscow), Andrey Semenov (Akhmat Grozny), Igor Smolnikov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Mario Fernandes (CSKA Moscow), Yuri Gazinskiy (Krasnodar), Alexander Golovkin (CSKA Moscow), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow), Alexander Erokhin (Zenit), Yuri Zhirkov (Zenit), Daler Kuzyaev (Zenit), Roman Zobnin (Spartak Moscow), Alexander Samedov (Spartak Moscow), Anton Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Denis Cheryshev (Villarreal), Artem Dzyuba (Arsenal Tula), Alexei Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Fyodor Smolov (Krasnodar)
Croatia Team News
Daniel Subasic (Monaco), Lovre Kalinic (Gent), Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), Ivan Strinic (Sampdoria), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kiev), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen), Duje Caleta-Car (Red Bull Salzburg), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Marcelo Brozovic (Internazionale), Filip Bradaric (Rijeka), Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Ivan Perisic (Internazionale), Nikola Kalinic (AC Milan), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Marko Pjaca (Schalke), Ante Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt)