Russia vs Croatia – Preview, Predictions and Betting Tips
The game is over
Final score: Russia vs Croatia is 2 – 2
Croatia win on penalties (3-4)
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7th July 2018 – 19-00 GMT
Olympiyskiy Stadion Fisht, Sochi – TV: RTE
Russia continue to defy the pre-tournament odds. Nobody expected the hosts to make inroads at the World Cup but having knocked out Spain in the round of 16, the country is now just two wins away from the final. Coach Stanislav Cherchesov changed system to see off the Spanish and he may stick with the defensive outlook here – particularly after seeing his team get hammered 3-0 by Uruguay in their final group game.
Like the Russians, Croatia needed a penalty shootout to reach the last eight. Zlatko Dalic’s side were expected to come through against Denmark but were frustrated by the well-drilled Danes. They’ll need to perform much better on Saturday evening because they might not get lucky twice.
Should the Croats up the tempo in their attacks against Russia, Croatia should have no problem justifying their pre-match odds of 5/4 to win in normal time.
The 1-1 draw against Denmark was the first time in five matches that Croatia have failed to score at least two goals in a game, as the likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic struggled to create against the disciplined Danes.
Russia’s new-found toughness was the reason they went through against Spain and Croatia will likely have to tend with similar tactics from the hosts.
But Cherchesov’s side have conceded five times at this tournament already and veteran defenders Sergey Ignashevich and Yuriy Zhirkov might not have much left in the tank. A 3-1 Croatia win is at a sizeable 25/1.
There’s no questioning Russia’s performance against Spain, with the likes of Isco and Marco Asensio unable to poke their way through their defence. But questions remain over whether the Russians have the legs to put in that kind of shift again on Saturday.
Croatia’s scoring record is impressive and six different players have already netted at the finals, so there are goals throughout the team.
Over 2.5 goals can be backed at 7/4 and if Croatia play with a high tempo for the entire match then that’s quite likely.
- Artem Dzyuba has had three shots at this tournament – and has scored three goals
Dzyuba to score first – 13/2
- Only Davor Suker has scored more World Cup goals for Croatia than Mario Mandzukic
Mandzukic to score anytime – 11/5