Host nation Russia face Croatia in the quarter-final with a last four spot at stake in what is largely considered the more favourable side of the draw. With favourites Brazil, France, Uruguay and Belgium battling it out for one place in the 15 July showpiece event, lesser fancied Croatia and Russia have a golden opportunity to reach a first ever final.
Where and when: Fisht Olympic Stadium – 7 July, kick-off 19:00
Where you can see Russia vs. Croatia: BBC
Last time: Burly striker Fyodor Smolov gave Russia an early lead before second-half goals from Nikola Kalinic, Marcelo Brozovic and Mario Mandzukic gave Croatia a convincing win when the sides met in non-competitive action back in 2015.
|Artem Dzyuba to score first||9/2||Offer|
|Over 2.5 goals||17/10||Offer|
|Red card given||4/1||Offer|
Russia v Croatia World Cup Predictions and Preview
The 2018 World Cup has perhaps been the most unpredictable International tournament in recent memory. Spain, Portugal, Argentina all fell in the space of 24 hours while defending champions Germany didn’t even make it out of the group stage. Coupled with the Netherlands and Italy’s incomprehensible failures, the last eight presents a special chance for one of Russia, Croatia, Sweden, Switzerland or England to achieve the unthinkable.
Home country Russia are in buoyant mood after their penalty shootout glory against La Roja. Fernando Hierro’s men were in complete disarray and there was only one side who looked confident when stepping up for spot kicks. Coach Stanislav Cherchesov, who was widely expected to be dismissed before the competition even began, will have a similar mind set to opposing boss Zlatko Dalić and believe his troops can advance. Russia are 29/10 to emerge victorious in regulation time and 11/8 to qualify outright.
Meanwhile, Croatia made it through after a penalty shootout victory of their own. The golden generation performed immensely in the group stage, embarrassing Argentina 3-0 and toppling Iceland and Nigeria, before squeezing through against Denmark. The Blazers didn’t hit their usual heights but shouldn’t be judged too harshly and are expected to recapture the form which blew the South Americans away. Croatia are 5/4 to win in 90 minutes and 8/15 to reach the semi-final for the first time since 1998. Mandzukic is 11/2 to open the scoring while the Blazers are 6/5 to keep a clean sheet.
One to watch for Russia: Golovin has shot to prominence this summer and is a special talent. The Golden Boy of this Russia group is a real team player but also capable of the spectacular as seen in the opening bout against Saudi Arabia. The in-demand 22-year-old is 5/1 to net anytime.
One to watch for Croatia: Ivan Perisic is 15/2 to score last as he did in the encounter with Iceland. The Inter wide man may be 29, but shows no sign of slowing down. Equally adept on left or right foot, expect Perisic to test the opposing keeper early on.
Long shot: Russia visibly frustrated Spain in their memorable Round of 16 contest and will be happy to do the same against another technically gifted team. Modric, Rakitic, Brozovic and Kovacic will need to come up with someone special to break down a committed and not particularly flash side who will settle for another shootout. Russia to reach the last four after winning on penalties for the second match in succession is available at 9/1.