Russia lock horns with Croatia for a spot in semi-finals
Hosts Russia eye a place in the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but 90 minutes of football and Croatia stand in their way. These two sides have enjoyed a brilliant campaign so far and will be keen to advance, considering most big guns have been knocked out of the tournament. Here is all you need to know about this high octane clash.
Reaching the semi-final would be Russia's best-ever finish at the World Cup. Notably, since 1994, they have failed to advance from the group stage in all editions. As Soviet, they had managed to reach the last four in 1966. As for Croatia, they are hoping they can better their 1998 record when they ended on third spot.
Croatia have been a patient side as they have scored 10 of their 12 goals at the 2018 World Cup in the second half. Russia started their tournament with a bang and had ten shots on target in their first two World Cup games. However, they have managed just two shots on goal in their last two games including penalty by Dzyuba against Spain.
These two sides are familiar foes and have faced each other on three occasions. Two of these encounters ended in goalless draws during 2008 Euro qualifiers. However, in November 2015, Croatia managed to beat Russia 3-1 in a friendly.
Russia will be without the services of veteran left-back Yuri Zhirkov, who will miss out the fixture due to a calf problem. However, they will be boosted by the return of Alan Dzagoev. He is back in contention after recovering from his hamstring injury. For Croatia, Kovacic and Strinic are fit and ready to play their part in this fixture.
Igor Akinfeev, Mario Fernandes, Ilya Kutepov, Sergey Ignashevich, Fedor Kudryashov, Roman Zobnin, Daler Kuzyaev, Aleksandr Samedov, Aleksandr Golovin, Denis Cheryshev and Artem Dzyuba
Danijel Subasic, Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic, Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic, Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic