The tournament host has surprised the pundits who though Russia were going to end their World Cup campaign in the group stage. But, they’re just one step away from the semifinal. And to get there, they will have to do well against Croatia this Saturday evening. Surely, they will have a massive support from the stands of Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, but the player quality is undoubtedly on the side of Croatia. So, who’s gonna go among the Top 4? Find out in this match preview!
Before the World Cup started, Russia were the lowest ranked team of all the teams competing on this tournament. Furthermore, the fact that they haven’t played the qualifiers made punters think that they’re not well-prepared for such a big thing as the World Cup. But then, the tournament started and Russia started playing great.
They won two matches in the group really impressively, before losing to Uruguay in the third round. That meant that they were gonna go to the knockout stage as the runner-up. In the Round of 16, they met with the winner of the Group B, Spain. Even though they were considered huge underdogs in that game, Russia managed to go past mighty Spain.
Truth be told, Russia spent most of that game defending with all they got. But, their plan worked – the match went to the extra time and then penalties decided that they were gonna advance to the quarterfinal. Now they’re facing Croatia, and it seems they’ll stick to their plan. Russia will again defend ferociously and look for their chances from the set-pieces.
This is a side that destroyed Argentina in the group stage, which showed everyone that they’re a team to mess with. Croatia finished the group stage on the top of the table with 100% winning rate. But then the Round of 16 came, in which they played against Denmark. And we saw them being rather uninspiring in that game.
It went to penalties and Croatia can count themselves lucky to win the penalty lottery. Surely, they don’t want to live through the same kind of stress once again, so they’ll do their best to beat Russia in the first 90 minutes.
The problem is that they might not feel comfortable in the role of the favorite. This team has fast players who like taking their chances on the break. But, keeping the possession and meticulously planning attacks against a well-organized defense isn’t their thing. At least, that’s what we’ve seen in the game against Denmark.
Perhaps they’ll do better in this match, especially if their manager Zlatko Dalic does his part well and get them ready for it.
Akinfeev – Ignashevich, Granat, Fernandes, Kudryashov – Cheryshev, Golovin, Gazinsky, Samedov, Zobnin– Dzuba
Subasic – Lovren, Vida, Vrsaljko, Pivaric – Kovacic, Modric, Rakitic – Perisic, Rebic, Mandzukic
Russia vs. Croatia Match Prediction
A big majority of 48k supporters at the Olimpiyskiy Stadion Fisht is going to be cheering for the host team. Such support is guaranteed to give Russia players the boost to protect their net with all they got. This is going to make Croatia’s job of putting the ball behind Akinfeev’s back an almost impossible task.
Still, I think that Russia can’t win every game sticking to the same, ultra-defensive game plan. I think Croatia will be able to find a way to score at least once in this game. But, when they’ll do it is still a big question. It won’t a surprise if the game goes to the extra time.
Russia vs. Croatia Betting Tips
- Croatia to Advance @1.57 (bet365)
- First Half Draw @1.90 (bet365)