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Russia vs Croatia: Can Croatia emulate historic ’98 side?

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PHOTO/ FIFA.COM

The last quarterfinal game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup will see the host team, Russia lock horns with Croatia.
Both teams came through tough battles in the Round of 16, and got their slot confirmed via penalty shootouts.

It will be interesting to know which of the two teams will go through and hopefully within 90 minutes of play as all other quarter final games have not taken more than that.

The host team have surprised everyone by keeping the hopes alive till this stage and are beginning to believe in the seemingly impossible.

Russia’s most versatile midfielder, Alan Dzagoev has been declared fit for the game. He could only play few minutes before he sustained hamstring injury and was substituted in the opening game against Saudi Arabia.

But Russia will be without their  veteran full-back Yuri Zhirkov who is ruled out with a calf problem.

Croatia, however, have really gone through tough fixtures in the competition. During the group stage, they produced some fine football to defeat Nigeria, Argentina and Iceland. They defeated Denmark to get to the quarterfinals.

Croatia are driven to emulate the achievement of their 1998 World Cup team who reached the semi-finals; Wednesday marked the 20-year anniversary of their 3-0 quarter-final win over Germany.

The face-off is probably the toughest to call. These two sides have taken and conceded fewer shots on target than the other six quarter-finalists, so goals may be at a premium.

Possible line-ups

Russia: Igor Akinfeev; Mario Fernandes, Ilya Kutepov, Sergey Ignashevich, Fedor Kudryashov; Roman Zobnin, Daler Kuzyaev; Aleksandr Samedov, Aleksandr Golovin, Denis Cheryshev; Artem Dzyuba

Croatia: Danijel Subasic; Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic; Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic, Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic; Mario Mandzukic

Did you know?
Out of their five World Cup campaigns, this is the third time that Croatia have come up against the hosts. They have not had much luck previously, however, with a 2-1 defeat against France in the semi-finals in 1998 being followed by a 3-1 loss to Brazil in the Opening Match of the 2014 edition.


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