Croatia take on Russia in the last match of the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia for a place in the semifinals.
This fixture was the least expected when the draws were made with Croatia needing the playoffs to qualify while the host nation, Russia, came into the competition as the lowest ranked team but both teams have surpassed expectations with impressive results so far.
Croatia have enjoyed a better run of the two teams winning all three group games and squeezing past Denmark on penalties and Russia who started like a house on fire, saw off Saudi Arabia and Egypt but fell to Uruguay before stunning Spain, knocking them out on penalties.
Croatia have lost none of their last three meetings against Russia drawing twice and winning one but have lost in consecutive meetings against host countries in the World Cup, a 2-1 loss to France in 1998 and a 3-1 against Brazil in 2014.
The Zlatko Dalic-led Croatia team are favorites to advance to the last 4 but with upsets and surprise results in this year’s tournament, their ability to stop the hosts in front of home crowd remains to be seen.
Punching above their weight will not be new to Russia and with Croat’s curse of the World Cup hosts as a confidence boost, they will be likely to put up a resilient display reminiscent of their victory over Spain in the round of 16.
Croatia will look to replicate their best World Cup finish, fourth place, in the last game of this tournament to be played at the Fisht stadium in Sochi.
Will Russia surprise us yet again? Or will the Vatereni end their opponents resilience with a more purposeful display?