Russia vs Croatia Preview

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(Image fro Sports Mirchi)

It's been some tournament for the host this time round; nobody expected them to get within a chance of the semi finals, like they have done now. Gritty performances have seen them progress against all odds to face a very strong Croatia side in Sochi.

Russia coasted their group in second place. In the round of 16, their challenge came in the form of one of the best sides in the world: Spain. They dug deep and ground out a 4-3 win on penalties. The character they've shown is exactly what you'd want in a major tournament. Dzyuba and Cheryshev lead the goals with three apiece, and the likes of Golovin has stepped up nicely. They've been solid at the back, and with set pieces too.

The Croatians have been simply majestic in the run up to this game. Nine points out of nine in the group stages, a close 3-2 win on penalties against Denmark and now they'll be hungrier than ever; this is their best chance of winning their first ever major international tournament. Rakitic, Modric, Perisic et al, are a force to be reckoned with.



Goalkeeper: Igor Akinfeev.

Captain, leader and hugely experienced. A rock in goal. Immense confidence to keep out Iago Aspas' shot and send his team through.

Defenders: Yury Zhirkov (LWB), Fedor Kudariashov, Sergey Ignashehvich and Ilya Kutapov (CBs), Mario Fernandes (RWB).

Gone for the same back five as last time, let's see what they can do this time round.

Midfielders: Roman Zobnin (CDM), Aleksandr Golovin and Alexander Semedov (CMs).
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Dzyuba and Cheryshev against Uruguay.
(Image from Zimbio)

Golovin is something else, the youngster has so much potential. His passing ability and shooting are real strong points. He'll be one to watch in particular. Semedov and Zobnin will give some more solidarity to things in the middle of the park.

Forwards: Denis Cheryshev (LF) and Artem Dzyuba (RF).

Strong, commanding and lethal forwards, Know how to find the back of the net time and time again.


Goalkeeper: Danijel Subasic.

Talented keeper. Performed well, didn't buckle under the pressure of a penalty shoot out.

Defenders: Ivan Strinic (LB), Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren (CBs), Sime Vrsaljko (RB).

Lovren and Vida have given Subasic a lot to think them for, with some robust performances in many big games. The right Vrsaljko has been a real stand out player for me, really top stuff from him. Strinic has been pretty good too.

Midfielders: Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric (CMs), Ivan Perisic (LM), Andrej Kramaric (CAM/CF), Marcelo Brozovic (RM).

Two world class box to box midfielders, who step up to the plate repeatedly. Perisic and Brozovic have the penetrative threat needed to link up with the forwards and make play in the final third. Could easily put Kovacic in there too, but I think Kramaric provides a different dynamic.

Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (ST).

A great striker, is the Juve man. He's not been firing on all cylinders but we all know what he can be capable of.


Russia 1-2 Croatia. I feel it will be a very close game, chances at both ends of the pitch and lots of entertainment. However, I feel the Croats will have it in them to knock out the hosts and just about see the game out. 



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