2018 World Cup Quarterfinals Betting Analysis: Russia vs Croatia

Posted by Derrick Harper on July 6, 2018 in

The final quarterfinal matchup of the 2018 World cup will feature the host nation Russia taking on Croatia. Coming off their penalty shootout win over perennial power Spain, the Russians remain underdogs at +282, although their odds for getting past the Spaniards were far longer. Croatia, meanwhile, is favored at +120 to reach the semi-finals for the first time since their unexpected run in 1998.

2018 World Cup Quarterfinals Betting Analysis: Russia vs Croatia

Croatia

Much like Russia, the Croatians advanced beyond the Round of 16 via penalties, enduring a tense matchup with Denmark. Having to go to penalties with Denmark has been the lone blemish for Croatia during this tournament. They cruised through arguably the toughest group with three wins and just one goal conceded. The Croatians have been master tacticians during this tournament, showing the ability to set back and absorb pressure while also playing on the front foot at other times. They’ve also received exceptional play from goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, who came up big in the shootout against Denmark after holding clean sheets against Nigeria and Argentina earlier in the tournament.

In the quarterfinals, the Croatians are prepared to face both an obstinate Russian team and a biased crowd cheering on the host nation. If the Russians employ similar tactics to what they did against Spain, it’ll be on Croatia to pick apart a team willing to put all 11 players behind the ball. That will put pressure on captain Luka Modric, as well as midfielders like Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Rakitic to exploit any opening in the Russian defense they can find while also making sure they don’t allow the Russians to attack them on the counter after a bad giveaway. If that’s the way Russia chooses to play, it won’t be easy for the Croatians, but they undoubtedly have the quality in their squad to create scoring opportunities against a defense that’s parking the bus.

Russia

Meanwhile, Russia has reached the quarterfinals despite subpar performances in their last two games. First, they closed the group stage with a 3-0 defeat against Uruguay before somehow engineering a draw with Spain despite having only 21% possession. The Russian players recognize they are a little lucky to have reached this point in the tournament. Of course, that doesn’t take away the belief they have that they can pull off another upset with the home crowd behind them.

Russia is not the favorite for the 2018 World Cup Quarterfinals against Croatia.

There is some sense that the Russians will look to play a more attacking style against Croatia, much like they did in wins over Saudi Arabia and Egypt early in the tournament. However, they’ve yet to prove that they have the same quality as Croatia and can survive playing that style against an opponent with better talent. If Croatia wants to dictate possession, they may have the talent to do so, potentially forcing Russia into a shell unless the Croatians prefer to let Russia have more of the ball, trusting that they can shut them down defensively.

Prediction

Russia has a lot of momentum and support heading into this game, not to mention a fair amount of quality. However, the Croatians are the more talented and more experienced side. Perhaps more importantly, they have put on a master class in tactics and strategy during this tournament. In the end, that will outweigh all of Russia’s intangibles. Croatia wins 3-1.