Croatia v Denmark: Croatian midfield finesse against Danish doggedness

Croatia Team for Russia 2018
Croatia Team for Russia 2018

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     CroatiaSweden         0 - 0     Denmark
Croatia          2 - 1     SenegalDenmark        2 - 0     Mexico
Croatia          2 - 0     NigeriaPeru                0 - 1     Denmark
Argentina       0 - 3     CroatiaDenmark        1 - 1     Australia
Iceland          1 - 2     CroatiaDenmark        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

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