Both Croatia and Russia will fight for a place in history books when they take on each other in the FIFA World Cup quarterfinal at Fisht Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
Croatia surprised everyone in the footballing world in 1998 when they clinched the third place in the World Cup. Davor Suker was the hero of that Croatian side as he claimed the Golden Boot award with six goals in seven games. A lot was expected of the tiny nation following their heroics in France, but it took them another 20 years to qualify for the knockout stages of the football’s biggest event.
After claiming a penalty shootout win over Denmark in the last-16 on Sunday, Vatreni now find themselves only 90 minutes away from matching the achievements of the 98 side. Luka Modric-led side are huge favourites in the betting market to claim success over the hosts and move into the last four.
You can back Croatia at best odds of 5/4 at Betway to claim a win in normal time. Check what others say about Betway in these real customer reviews. A draw is available at 21/10 odds, and a Russia win can get you up to 11/4 odds at the same bookmaker.
The hosts also come on the back of a penalty shootout win over Spain. It was a stunning achievement for Russia to knock out 2010 winners, but they offered very little from open play in the game. In sharp contrast to Croatia, Russia barely enjoyed any possession in their last-16 clash and relied on spot kicks to claim a success over the much-superior side. We expect them to adopt the same approach against Croatia and try and take the tie to the extra-time. However, Croatia survived a scare against Denmark, and they would very much like to wrap up the last-eight tie in 90 minutes.
You can back Russia to qualify at 5/4 odds, and Croatia at 13/20 odds. Both nations are coming into this game following low-scoring last-16 ties, and we don’t expect too many goals in this game too. Thus under 2.5 goals also looks like a decent bet at 9/20 odds.
Key Players and Team News
Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been key figures in midfield for Croatia, and they are likely to dictate terms against Russia. Mario Mandzukic will be the main goalscoring threat for the Croatians.
Artyom Dzyuba was a constant menace for the Spaniards, and he has the physicality to trouble the Croatians too. Aleksandr Golovin and Denis Cheryshev are also capable of finding the net.
Yuri Zhirkov is a doubt for the hosts after picking up an injury against Spain. Mandzukic also picked up a wound against Denmark, but he should be available for selection.
These two nations have played each other three times before. These two were grouped together in the qualifying group for Euro 2008. Both games between these two ended in goalless draws.
More recently, both nations played in a friendly in 2015 and that game ended 3-1 in the favour of the Croats.