The tilt between Russia and Croatia will be played at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi on July 7th. The Sbornaya has an opportunity to fight for the medal in front of their own fans if they manage to eliminate Croatia as they did with Spain, but the Blazers are hoping for their second semi-final in history and first since their golden generation’s success in France 1998.
Russia vs. Croatia
Three-Way: 1: Russia +300; X: +225 Draw; 2: Croatia -105
Spread +0.5: Russia -143; Croatia +120
Total 2.5 goals: Over +175; Under -222
Surely one of the most pleasant surprises alongside Sweden, Russia secured their first-ever knockout phase since the breakup of the Soviet Union and not only that, they even made it to the quarter-finals after an unexpected penalty shootout win over favored Spain. The Red Fury dominated throughout the entire match and attempted even 25 shots on Igor Akinfeev’s goal, but the only time they managed to beat the keeper was when Akinfeev’s teammates Sergey Ignashevich put the ball inside his own net. The Russians scored from the penalty spot which was their only shot on target in 120 minutes and they focused on forcing the shootout, which they did and later won. Russia’s chances to win the World Cup are now +2000, while the Sbornaya is +500 to reach the finals.
The Blazers had a similar destiny in the Round of 16 as they needed penalty shootout to knock out Denmark, even though Luka Modric had a golden opportunity to settle the tilt in the extra time but Kasper Schmeichel anticipated his penalty well. Croatia was pretty impressive in the group stage and finished that phase with a maximum nine points, but they weren’t convincing against Denmark who was able to stop their key players. If Russia repeats a fantastic defensive performance that helped them defeating Spain, Croatia will have a lot of problems to penetrate, but an early goal could completely change the situation. Croatia’s chances to win the World Cup are now +650, while the Blazers are +188 to reach the finals.
Croatia is a favorite at -105 and although they have better players who are representing some of the strongest clubs in Europe, including Modric, Rakitic, Mandzukic, and Lovren, the Russians displayed a great fighting spirit and they kept believing even when Spain took an early lead. The Blazers are close to reaching the semis, but I don’t think they will do it in 90 minutes, so extra time or penalties are on the cards.