After a truly tremendous pair of penalty wins, Russia and Croatia face off in a major FIFA World Cup Quarter Final. Many Russians had expected to have picked ‘new’ teams for the tournament: many likely even backing Croatia. With the national side far exceeding expectation already, can they really move closer to immortality?
When the opening game seen Alan Dzagoev go off with a hamstring injury, everyone presumed he was out of the tournament. While he’ll likely miss out here again, he’s not too far off recovery and could make a potential Semi-Final!
A few key suspensions will hurt here, and could be a telling issue as the match progresses. Fitness and depth, especially in defence, will come to be truly tested out here for Russia.
The dramatics of missing the late penalty via Luka Modric to then going through via Ivan Rakitic was a tremendous moment for Croatia. While Russia are the high-flying hosts, they struggled against a similarly dogged and intelligent Uruguay side.
While Denmark done well to rile Croatia, getting through should leave the Croats in a much more positive position. Without many issues with fitness or missing players, too, they can push the Russian buttons more effectively.
With a team that is growing into the competition and now has edged out a result as well as earned one in style, the momentum is there. To knock out Russia, who are playing so above themselves would only further make Croatia feel a little closer to history.
While Spain had obvious signs of dysfunction and both Saudi Arabia and Egypt were poor sides, Croatia are not. unless they play as they did against Denmark again, it might be hard for Russia to take out a much more harmonious Croatia side than Spain. We fancy Croatia to win and put the fairytale host nation run to an end.