Croatia v Russia
Saturday 7th July, 19:00
Live on BBC/ITV

Croatia yet to command and conquer

Croatia qualified for the quarter-finals via a nerve-shredding penalty shootout against Denmark last Sunday night as goalkeeper Danijel Subasic became only the second stopper in World Cup history to save three spot-kicks in a shootout.
Ivan Rakitic slotted home the decisive 10th kick but there was no doubt who the hero of the hour was for the Balkan outfit. The Blazers were heavily fancied to progress pre-match, but after an eventful opening five minutes where the two nations shared scrappy goals, a largely disappointing tie played out.
That was until a stunningly dramatic finale in extra-time. Ante Rebic was hauled down with the goal at his mercy and Luka Modric saw his subsequent match-winning penalty attempt saved. Modric's miss meant spot-kicks was required to split the sides where Rakitic and Subasic picked up the plaudits.
However, head coach Zlatko Dalic might be tempted to make changes for Saturday night's encounter after a lacklustre performance. Croatia's passing was off, they seemed to lack energy and ambition - and their ability to unpick a well-drilled opposition was limited.

Russia exceed expectations

Hosts Russia pulled off one of the biggest shock of the World Cup as they beat 2010 champions Spain to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in 48 years. After extra-time ended with the score locked at 1-1, goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was the Sbornaya's penalty hero, to spark scenes of delirious celebration in Moscow.
Stanislav Cherchesov's side - the lowest ranked team in the competition - were seen as no-hopers by most observers when the tournament began, when even getting out of their group for the first time since the end of the Soviet era had been seen as beyond them.
And after falling behind early on following veteran Sergei Ignashevich's error, supporters may have feared the worse. However, the hosts were rarely threatened despite ceding possession to the Spanish and Artem Dzyuba's penalty restored parity before half-time. Russia's defensive masterclass continued thereafter and the Sbornaya deservedly took the game to spot-kicks.
Whether Russia will approach this tie with 10 men behind the ball remains to be seen but Cherchesov could be forced into a couple of changes. Yuri Zhirkov is almost certain to miss out with Fyodor Kudryashov likely to step in at left-back, while Alan Dzagoev could feature having returned to full training.

Stalemate on the cards in Sochi

Croatia have been chalked up as 2.28 favourites and that's understandable considering the quality at their disposal. The Blazers are bidding to reach the last-eight for the first time since their memorable run to the semi-finals in 1998.

Nevertheless, the Blazers haven't quite clicked at the competition thus far. Six of their nine shots on-target have resulted in goals and performance data metrics also frown upon suggestions that Croatia have been amongst the leading contenders this summer.
Russia 4.10 have produced a similarly clinical suit with the Sbornaya scoring nine goals from only 11 on-target attempts. The hosts' Expected Goals figures are also unremarkable with Stanislav Cherchesov's men overperforming in both boxes thus far.
Considering eight (40%) of the past 20 World Cup quarter-finals during a 32-team tournament have ended all-square, plus the fact both sides went the distance in the Last 16, it might be worth backing a repeat with the stalemate 3.15 the most attractive punt.

Low-scoring contest expected

Traditionally, as the World Cup progresses towards the showpiece final, the pressure increases and goals per-game average decreases. Across the past five tournaments, 12/20 (60%) encounters have featured Under 2.5 Goals 1.54 and 7/20 (35%) saw both sides score.
Neither nation are yet to concede a goal from open play so another low-scoring showdown could be on the cards in Sochi. With Under 2.5 Goals too short to support as a standalone selection, but with a draw already recommended, we can combine the two bets to back Draw and Under 2.5 Goals at 23/10.
Croatia have seen nine of their last 25 matches since the start of qualification produce goals at both ends, while Russia have followed suit in three of their last five major tournament matches. What's more, all bar one draw in the World Cup knockout stages since 1994 has concluded either 0-0 or 1-1.

Key Opta Stats for Russia v Croatia

This will be the 25th meeting between these sides. England have won eight to Sweden’s seven, with nine draws. Another draw is 3.35.
Both of the previous World Cup meetings between Sweden and England have finished level, with a 1-1 draw in 2002 and a 2-2 in 2006 (both in the group stages). Both teams to score is 2.42.
Sweden could become the third team that England have beaten at both the World Cup and European Championships, after Germany and Switzerland. They beat Sweden 3-2 in EURO 2012. An England win is 1.97.
Sweden are competing in their fifth World Cup quarter-final – they’ve progressed to the semi-final in three of their previous four (1938, 1958 and 1994), losing only in 1934 against Germany. The Swedes are 3.05 to progress in the To Qualify market.
England have reached the World Cup quarter-final for the first time since 2006, when they lost on penalties to Portugal. They’ve not progressed beyond this stage since 1990, when they beat Cameroon 3-2. They are 1.48 to make it to the semi-finals.
England have only progressed from two of their eight previous World Cup quarter-final appearances, doing so in 1966 and 1990. You can lay their qualification at 1.49.
11 of Sweden’s last 14 goals at the World Cup have been scored in the second half, including five of their six goals at this tournament. The England half-time/draw full-time double result is 20.00.
No England player has scored more World Cup goals in a single tournament than the six Harry Kane has scored in 2018. Gary Lineker also netted six in 1986, winning the Golden Boot in the process. Kane is 2.12 to score.
Harry Kane could become only the third player in the history of the England national team to score in seven consecutive appearances – the others are George Camsell (9 in a row between 1929 and 1936) and Steve Bloomer (10 in a row between 1895 and 1899). He's 4.00 to open the scoring.
Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen has kept three clean sheets at the 2018 World Cup, a joint-record for a Swedish goalkeeper in World Cup finals history (also three clean sheets for Ronnie Hellström in 1974 and Karl Svensson in 1958). Another Swedish clean sheet is 3.75.
Sweden striker Marcus Berg has had 13 shots without scoring at the 2018 World Cup, the most of any player to fail to score this tournament; the last Sweden player to have more shots without scoring at a World Cup was Ove Grahn in 1974 (17 shots, 0 goals). An England clean sheet is 2.08.
RECOMMENDED BETS
Back the draw and Under 2.5 Goals @ 13/10 in Croatia v Russia

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