Hosts Russia stunned Spain with a penalty shootout win over the 2010 champions in the second round, whilst on the same night Croatia had to overcome Denmark on spot kicks themselves.
Russia are playing a very negative brand of football and relied on a penalty for their only effort on goal and goal in their 1-1 draw with Spain. But they defended well against Fernando Hierro’s side, who lacked a plan B.
I had been expecting Croatia to go far in this competition from the start but they were very poor against Denmark, though they did miss a penalty towards the end of extra-time.
Their ageing midfield will know that this summer or Euro 2020 are their best chances at some international silverware and the draw has really opened up for them in that I believe they should be favourites to reach the final on their side.
Mario Mandzukic scored the equaliser versus Denmark, whilst Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic are performing very well in midfield. I still believe Ivan Perisic has more to offer because he is usually a goal threat and hasn’t shown it in Russia yet. Against the hosts ageing defence and poor goalkeeper perhaps he’ll get on the scoresheet on Saturday night.
I am expecting a much better performance from Croatia in the quarter-finals than in the last round though I do accept Russia defended very well against Spain. I believe the Croats progress from this tie.
Best bet: Croatia to qualify is 1.56 with Betfair
Value bet: Croatia to win is 2.10 with Betfair