Preview - Russia vs Croatia 08 July 18

Started by Harry85, Jul 07, 2018, 07:03 AM

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World Cup Quarter Finals
Russia vs Croatia
Sunday, July 8th, 2018
03:00am, (GMT +8 Timing)
Stadium: Fisht Olympic Stadium

Last five matches form: D W W L W
Average goals per match last ten: 1.40
Average goals against per match last ten: 1.70
Top Scorer: Artem Dzyuba (14)

Last five matches form: W W W W W
Average goals per match last ten: 
Average goals against per match last ten:
Top Scorer: Mario Mandžukić (31)

The quarter final stage reaches its conclusion in Russia as the hosts welcome Croatia to the Olympic Stadium. Stanislav Cherchesov's men have probably already exceeded expectations in getting this far and will be keen to keep the dreams of the home fans alive here.

These sides have met three times in the past, resulting in two goalless draws and a 3-1 win for Croatia.

Only slight injury concerns for both sides, with Russia's Alan Dzagoev and Croatia's Ivan Strinic not certain to be fit enough to take part.

It will be interesting to see the tactics adopted by Russia for this one. Will they go into their shells as they did against Spain or revert to the more expansive style deployed in their opening group games?

Our suspicion is that they may lean more towards the backs against the wall approach as Croatia are another side who have any number of weapons with which to hurt them should they be granted space to attack.

Croatia have only really been impressive in fits and starts in this competition and struggled mightily to come through against Denmark in the round of 16 - needing a penalty shootout to prevail in the end.

Croatia are the better side on paper here, but the match won't be played on paper, and with the backing of a vociferous home crowd, we see Russia making this tough for Luka Modric and company.

Prediction: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia


Half time: 1 - 1
Full time: 1 - 1
After Extra Time: 2 - 2
Penalties: 3 - 4
Shots: 15 - 20
Shots on target: 7 - 5
Corner Kicks: 6 - 8
Possession: 35% - 65%

Croatia's Dejan Lovren, Ivan Strinic, Domagoj Vida and Josip Pivaric all had their names taken by referee Sadro Ricci. Yuri Gazinskiy was the only player booked for Russia.

This match may have been a little short on consistent quality - although it certainly had its moments - but what it definitely did not lack was drama.

Croatia as expected dominated the ball here as Russia sat back in an effort to keep as compact as possible and hit on the counter attack.

It was probably a little against the run of play, but it was Russia who took the lead in the 31st minute. Denis Cherysev picking the ball up around 25 yards from goal and curling a beautiful effort into the top left corner for one of the best goals of the tournament to date.

The lead was only to last eight minutes though. Mario Mandžukić finding space down the left and picking out Andrey Kramaric lurking on the edge of the six yard box to head home.

The second half was something of a non-event in terms of chances as the game seemingly inevitably headed towards extra time.

It was Croatia who continued to be the more attacking of the sides in additional time as Russia had the look of a team content to take their chances in a penalty shootout.

Croatia's greater positivity paid off in the 101st minute. Luka Modric swinging in a corner from the right and Domagoj Vida rising to meet it. It may have taken a deflection on the way through but in it went to hand Croatia the lead with time running out.

Russia weren't done with yet though and got a set piece goal of their own in the 115th minute. Alan Dzagoev's free kick being met by Mario Fernandes with an excellently directed header to level the scores.

And so we headed to penalties.

It didn't begin well for Russia with Fedor Smolov's strange chipped effort being easily saved by Danijel Subaric.

Igor Akinfeev brought Russia back into it when saving well from Mateo Kovacic, only for goal scoring hero Fernandes to then blast wide of the post.

With the next four players all scoring it was left to Ivan Rakitic to fire his side into a semi final clash with England, and he made no mistake.

The home nation crash out but can be rightly proud of their achievement of making the quarter finals in a tournament in which few gave them a chance.

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