Russia vs Croatia
Competition: 2018 World Cup finals
Date: 7 July 2018
Kick-off: 20:00 CET
Before the finals started, Russian fans were afraid their national team would be a disgrace. They got proven wrong, thankfully for them, the team qualified for the last 16, and not just that, but knocked Spain out as well, thanks to their… persistence and also thanks to Gerard Piqué’s stupidity to give away a monumentally moronic penalty that allowed the Russians to equalize, before taking the round of 16 game to extra-time and penalties. “We are one big tight family”, players and coach say in their Press conferences, come together possibly because they were all under fire up until their first group match. Yuri Zhirkov is very likely to miss this game, due to injury. Alan Dzagoev faced fresh injury worries a couple of days ago, he had to go to a hospital and have some exams, but 24 hours before kick-off it looked like he was fine, available to play.
Croatia got surprised in the first minute of their round of 16 match against Denmark, went 1-0 down, but equalized in a matter of minutes. Despite having looked very-very good in their three group matches, versus the Danes they were rather mediocre, at least offensively. They even missed a penalty in the 116th minute, when it looked like Luka Modric was about to seal their qualification for the last 16. Croatia’s captain found it in him to take one of the penalties later, and didn’t miss twice. Danijel Subašić, their goalkeeper, was the protagonist in the nerve-wrecking shootout. Croatia must feel relieved to be facing Russia instead of Spain, without, of course, being assured of a ticket to the semifinals. Against the Spaniards, they would be underdogs. Against the Russians, the overall feeling is that it depends mostly on them, and less on the hosts. If Croatia play the way they have shown they can play, not even a good Russia will block their way to the semis.
Previous five matches:
Spain vs Russia 1-1
Uruguay vs Russia 3-0
Russia vs Egypt 3-1
Russia vs Saudi Arabia 5-0
Russia vs Turkey 1-1
Croatia vs Denmark 1-1
Iceland vs Croatia 1-2
Argentina vs Croatia 0-3
Croatia vs Nigeria 2-0
Croatia vs Senegal 2-1
The winner of this match will face the winner of Sweden vs England in the second semifinal.
Russia vs Croatia: Head to head Stats
Russia and Croatia have played against each other three times in the past, two matches have ended in a draw, and one had the Croats as winners. Total goals, 3-1 for Croatia.
Russia vs Croatia: Prediction
I believe in Croatia, I’m backing them to beat Russia in 90 minutes, and qualify without needing extra-time or penalties.
Russia vs Croatia: Betting Tips
Croatia’s victory pays 2.20. I would stay with that. For more, I would go for “Croatia and over 2.5 goals”, at 4.50(!). “Over 2.5 goals” alone is at 2.60. Deep down I expect Russia to score, and… play their part in pushing the score over 2.5.