It has been smooth for Croatia in Russia as their talented midfield; led by captain Luka Modric has largely dictated the rhythm. Denmark will be well organised, hoping to take advantage of set pieces and fast counters.
The Croatians believe they have a group that is more talented than that of the 1998 class, who took third place in France; while Denmark also have fond memories of 1998 as they reached the quarterfinals.
Head to head
Sat 05/06/04 FRI Denmark 1 – 2 Croatia
Wed 10/02/99 FRI Croatia 0 – 1 Denmark
Wed 10/09/97 WQE Denmark 3 – 1 Croatia
Sat 29/03/97 WQE Croatia 1 – 1 Denmark
Sun 16/06/96 EUC Croatia 3 – 0 Denmark
Current Form [Last 5 matches]
|Brazil 2 - 0 Croatia||Sweden 0 - 0 Denmark|
|Croatia 2 - 1 Senegal||Denmark 2 - 0 Mexico|
|Croatia 2 - 0 Nigeria||Peru 0 - 1 Denmark|
|Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia||Denmark 1 - 1 Australia|
|Iceland 1 - 2 Croatia||Denmark 0 - 0 France|
Three duels to watch
Ivan Rakitic v Cristian Eriksen
The manner in which Rakitic has patrolled and controlled the centre of play has been a definitive part of Croatia’s rise to becoming a favourite in Russia. He will be up against a slick midfielder in Eriksen, and Denmark’s major scoring threat. If Eriksen is nullified, Croatia will have a field day.
Ante Rebic v Pione Sisto
The powerhouse of the Croatian attack is Rebic and he will keep going unless Sisto, pushing up on Denmark’s left flank, forces him into a more defensive mode.
Mario Mandzukic v Simon Kjaer
Mandzukic does not score many goals; but he is a distraction, who paves way for others to strike gold. Kjaer is a bit experienced but he must communicate concisely with his partner, Andreas Christensen, or else there will be gaps for the Croats to explore.
Referee in charge: it is the imposing 43-year-old Argentine, Nestor Pitana, that will be in charge and he has been a FIFA-graded referee since 2010. He has handled two matches in which there were eight goals.
WORLD CUP FACT: The grass at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium was bathed with artificial light to make the pitch perfect for Sunday’s clash.
Prediction: Croatia 3-1 Denmark