Croatia vs. Russia
World Cup: July 7, 2018, 2:00 PM ET (Fisht Olympic Stadium)
Odds: Croatia +124 / Russia +250 / Draw +205
FREE FIFA WORLD CUP PICK Croatia vs. Russia
Croatia played Denmark in their last game. Though they dominated the stat lines, they snuck by in penalty kicks 3-2. Denmark scored in the first minute and Croatia answered back in the fourth minute. After the fourth minute goal from Mario Mandzukic, Croatia had 20 shots but couldn’t find the back of the net again. Luka Modric had a chance blocked in the 116th minute, but recovered to put one away in pens. Croatia is one of the most versatile teams left in the cup. They can score from anywhere on the pitch. Croatia has scored 7 goals from 6 different players. Their offense has been backed by stellar defense, led by Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren. Looking ahead to Russia, Croatia needs to rely on their workhorse midfielders Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They do it all for Croatia, so if they can control the midfield, supply attack, and take their chances when they come, they’ll make it hard for the hosts.
Russia stole a game away from Spain in their last outing. In a game that no one expected Russia to win, they beat Spain 4-3 in pens. Russia hung in, only having 1 shot on target and 21% possession. Russia’s strongest advantage going forward, isn’t even on the soccer pitch. Russia, being the host, has so far aligned themselves to have favorable matchups. They have gained momentum as they’ve gone farther than anyone expected them to go as the lowest ranked team before the tournament. As the underdogs again, Russia needs to ride this wave as they take on Croatia. But, going into the game, Russia has injuries to key players. Yuri Zhirkov and Alan Dzagoev are both ruled out for the game. With these players sitting out, Russia will need to be extremely efficient, be on top of their game, and feed off the energy of the crowd.
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Six hosts have won the World Cup, with France being the last back in 1998
Croatia is unbeaten in eight competitive international matches (six wins, two draws)
Croatia is unbeaten in three previous meetings with Russia
FREE FIFA WORLD CUP PICK Russia vs. Croatia
Russia’s been riding high after defying the odds in the cup. But, the host country can only keep that up for so long. After outlasting Spain, Croatia is their next challenge. Croatia is the better team and they are in great form and playing very technically sound soccer and. In this match-up, the midfield is key. With two of the best midfielders in the world on Croatia’s side, you have to give them the edge in this one.
[button type=”big” color=”red”] Pick: Croatia +124 [/button]