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Croatia vs Denmark
2018 FIFA World Cup, Round of 16
|Nizhny Novogorod Stadium|
Croatia will face Russia in the World Cup quarter-finals, after defeating Denmark 3-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw.
The early minutes of this match were electric, as Denmark took the lead in the opening minute, exactly 58 seconds into the match. However, that lead would last mere moments, as Croatia attacked in reply, and a clearance by Denmark hit a teammate’s head before landing at the feet of Mario Mandzukic, who converted from six yards out.
Unfortunately, that was the extent of the real action as neither team took the game with any real confidence, and aside from a few limited chances, the match finished at full-time fairly even.
The biggest talking point was the penalty awarded to Croatia late in extra-time, when defender Mathias Jorgensen brought down Ivan Perisic in a one-on-one with Kasper Schmeichel. Jorgensen earned a yellow card only, and Luka Modric couldn’t convert his penalty.
The Croatians though were the strongest in the ensuing shootout, neither side converting with any real ease, and Croatia finishing 3-2 winners on penalties to set up a date with Russia.
Croatia 1 (3)
Denmark 1 (2)
It’s round of 16 time at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with one of the new favourites and heavyweights Croatia coming up against a sturdy Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage of the match from 4am (AEST).
Croatia are one of the form teams coming into the knock-out rounds, having relatively easily accounted for all their group opponents to top their group.
Croatia battled past Nigeria, blew past Argentina, and accounted for Iceland, all of their performances thus far exhibiting a team that is balanced, well-drilled, but crucially clinical when needing to take their chances.
Luke Modric will also be a very keen focal point, but not just for the Croatian attack.
With the departures of Messi and Ronaldo, this World Cup is now screaming for another to fill the void, and while all eyes have immediately turned to Neymar, the Brazilian has flattered to deceive, so perhaps the Croatian playmaker and superstar in his own right may finally emerge from the shadows into the spotlight.
A deep run here for Croatia, off the back of a Champions League-winning strong season with Madrid, and perhaps Modric may even break the Messi-Ronaldo duopoly on the Ballon d’Or.
Denmark will not be an easy opponent though, and as the group stage proved, to beat the Scandinavians, you must be disciplined, and ruthless.
Denmark conceded just the one goal in the group stage, and that was the Australian penalty taken by Mile Sterjovski, and even that required the assistance of the VAR.
But then again, so did the Danish only score the two goals in the group stages, with one of them being (again) the world-class strike by Eriksen in the opening stages against the Socceroos.
The point being that Denmark will have to maintain that hard defensive edge, but also lift in attack, if they want to threaten Croatia in this match.
This is the sixth time these nations have met, and the ledger stands two wins apiece and a draw. Either way, someone will take a lead in the head-to-head count tonight.
Croatia have an opportunity to make a deep run to at least the semi-finals here, and that knowledge along with just an extra touch of class should seen them home over these good, but not necessarily great, Danes.
Croatia 3 – Denmark 1.
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