What an amazing round of matches yesterday, with France knocking out Argentina 4-3, and Uruguay surprising Portugal with a 2-1 scoreline, to send Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. home, after a closely fought match.
That brings us to today’s football action which sees Spain take on hosts Russia at 15:00pm (GMT) or 16:00pm (CEST), followed by Croatia v Denmark at 19:00pm (GMT) or 20:00pm (CEST), in what should be two more exciting games that on paper, quite clearly have team favourites to progress, but as we’ve already seen in this World Cup, which is that anything can happen.
With Spain v Russia, we can expect the Spanish to provide the afternoon’s entertainment in a 4-2-3-1 formation or a 4-3-3 formation, with Diego Costa spearheading the attack. Manager Fernando Hierro is looking to field his strongest attack yet again, but with so many attacking threats available and great options in the final third, it still remains to be seen as to who will play in behind or alongside Diego Costa. Marco Asensio could be given his chance, with Isco expected to keep his place after scoring against Morocco, but Saul Niguez might get the nod in central midfield. David Silva may not feature from the start, whereas Andres Iniesta is expected to keep his place in the starting line up, as per usual.
For the Russians, who were strong against lesser sides, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the group stage, before losing 3-0 to Uruguay, are most probably out of their depth here against the Spaniards today. But, with the home crowd behind them, they’ll surely put up a fight. Alan Dzagoev has of course been ruled out of the tournament in their first match, but Denis Cheryshev has been a welcome replacement with already three goals to his name.
Igor Smolinkov was sent off against Uruguay and isn’t available for selection, so Mario Fernandes is likely to come into the team. Dzyuba will lead the line for Russia, but we don’t see him getting on the scoresheet against the likes of De Gea between the posts, and Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos in defence, whom are arguably the toughest back line in the whole tournament.
Match Prediction: Spain v Russia 3-0 or Over 2.5 Goals
In the other World Cup knock out game, it sees the massively impressive Croatia v Denmark, in what will be a closer fought match, but experts will no doubt back the Croatians to come out as winners. Luka Modric is already being tipped for the Golden Ball in this World Cup, after stunning performances, seeing him assist and pick up two goals so far. After Zlatko Dalic rested players against Iceland, the strongest side will return and that’s bad news for Denmark, since Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric and Marcelo Brozovic will make up the creative midfield, behind the physically intimidating Mario Madzukic as centre striker. Plus, Ivan Perisic scored in the last match and Ante Rebic has also got off the mark, so in a 4-3-3 formation, the Croatians are exceptional right across the pitch. However, a total of 8 players are on yellow cards, and they will have to refrain from hard tackles, if they want to play in the next match, but they have no injuries in the squad, so replacements will be readied, if any suspensions come to light after tonight.
Denmark are in for probably the toughest opponent imaginable in this round, apart from Brazil, and they have William Kvist sidelined, so Lasse Schone will keep his place in midfield. Yusuf Poulsen is back from a two yellow card suspension, which is a boost for the Danes, after Martin Braithwaite deputised in the last match. Striker Nicolai Jorgensen will hope to finally get on the scoresheet, but is up against a physical opponent in Dejan Lovren, so Denmark could look to Pione Sisto and Christian Eriksen to provide the firepower from attacking midfield positions.
Thomas Delaney and Lasse Schone will find it hard to dictate the game in midfield, with Rakitic, Brozovic and Modric, making light work of Denmark’s anchor midfielders, with pace, skill and precision passing. However, Denmark could score from a set piece, and everybody knows that Christian Eriksen will be responsible for those.
We don’t see Denmark winning, so Croatia will progress to the quarter-finals and when they do, more and more people will deem them the dark horses to win the World Cup.
Match Prediction: Result Croatia Both Teams to Score: Yes or Croatia v Denmark 3-1
Story by The Narrator
Featured Photo Credit: FIFA.com