Date: Sunday July 7th
Match Odds: Croatia +120 / Russia +285 / Draw +205
Over/Under: 2.5 goals
Host Russia scored one of the biggest upsets in the Tournament taking out 2010 champion Spain in penalties in their last match. However, even on home turf they are, once again, betting underdogs.
Croatia looked like one of the best teams in the Tournament in group play, but did not look great getting by Denmark in penalties. Monaco golie Daniel Subašić was definitely the hero of the match stopping three penalty shots in the shootout to vault the Croats into the quarterfinals.
This is the 4th all time meeting between these teams with Croatia winning one, in a 2015 friendly, and the other two ending in a draw.
Croatia has one of the best midfields in the Tournament led by LUka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić, but, overall, the squad was not dominant in that part of the pitch in the win over Denmark. Modrić has to give a big thanks to Subašić, as he had his 116th minute penalty saved, which would likely have given the Croats the win in extra time. He and Rakitić have to play better in this match and control the midfield and really defend the counter attack.
Russia beat Spain on penalties in their quarterfinals match even though they were utterly dominated in time of possession (79% to 21%). They looked for the counter all match and after they scored the equalizer on the penalty they dropped the whole squad on the defensive end of the pitch. In extra time, they did not even look for the attack, but played defense hoping to get to a shootout, which they did.
Artem Dzyuba will be the lone striker for the Russians in their 3-4-2-1 defensive formation.
The Croats will go with a more attacking 4-1-4-1 formation led by Juventus striker Mario Mandukić, who scored the lone goal in regulation time in the win over Denmark. Croatia has to get back to how they played in group play and control the midfield with their two stars. They did not look like the same bunch in the Denmark win and have to get back in form facing a Russian team at home and brimming with confidence.
Fedor Kudryashov, Sergei Ignashevich, and Mario Figueira Fernandes are the back-line defense for Russia and they played great in the win over Spain. they and the midfield disrupted the passing when Spain got close and they have to do that in this match as well.
Croatia scored the first goal in all three of their group matches and that set the pace for them playing so well. In the win over Denmark they gave up a goal after only one minute of play, but came back and equalized in the 4th minute. Still, they looked great in group play when having a lead taking advantage of the other squad pressing.
The winner of this match will face the winner of the Sweden vs. England match in the semifinals.
Last Three Matches
6/19/18 Russia 3 – 1 Egypt
6/25/18 Uruguay Russia 0
7/1/18 Spain 1 Russia 1 (Russia won on penalties 4-3)
6/21/18 0 Croatia 3
6/26/18 Iceland 1 Croatia 2
7/1/18 Croatia 1 Denmark 1 (Croatia won on penalties 3-2)
Prediction: Russia is on home soil and Croatia did not play the best match in their last one, but still going with the Balkan nation in this one. Modrić will make up for his penalty miss with a great match and Rakitić will play well and the Croats will win the battle in the middle of the pitch. The Russians will play solid defense and have some chances on the counter, but Croatia will thwart them and get a single goal. They will win 1-0 sending the hosts home and advance to the semifinals for the 2nd time in team history.