World Cup 2018: Croatia beat World Cup hosts Russia on penalties

Croatia are the last team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup semifinals after knocking out Russia’s hosts in the quarter-finals at Fisht Stadium on Sunday (8/7). Croatia did not win the semi-finals easily. Vatreni had to take pains until penalty shootout to be able destroy the toughness of Russia in this tournament.

Russia is on of the unseeded teams at the 2018 World Cup. Entering the tournament with seven warm-up games without a victory, in fact Russia can be a team worth being wary of its opponents. In the first game of the team nicknamed Sbornaya is winning 5-0 over Saudi Arabia. Next turn the Egyptians who initially being favorite as a black horse lose 3-1 to Russia. In those two matches, Russia applied the offensive game. Staniskav Cherchesov’s team can also play fast. Russia includes a team with uniform composition. They also have great motivation in this tournament.

One of the proofs of Russia need to watch out for is when they successfully get rid of Spain in the round of 16 through penalties. The Russians realized they could not win if they played Spain open game. Therefore, coach Cherchesov applied his defensive style against La Furia Roja. Luckily for Russia, Spain does not have a solution to dismantle its home defense meeting.

Although left behind, Russia finally able to equalize through Artem Dzyuba and forced the game continued until the penalty shootout. The second advantage for Russia against Spain occurred, they can win the penalty shootout with a score of 4-3.

The next test for Russia came from Croatia in the quarter-finals. Both teams play cautiously at the start of the fight. Because both teams are equally aware, whether Russia or Croatia have counterattack capabilities. Croatia had to be denied by Denis Cheryshev’s goal in the 31st minute. However, Croatia with all its experience and determination to repeat the success of the 1998 World Cup moment can equalize through Andrej Kramaric scored in the 39th minute.

In the second half, both teams relatively slowed down. Croatians who are inhabited by many senior players do not want to be missed for the second time because of their oversized stamina. Therefore, Zlatko Dalic’s team doest not attack sporadically. Up to 90 minutes the game ended, both teams mentally awake and balanced. In the first extra round Croatia could turn ahead with Domagoj Vida’s 101st-minute header. But Russia does not give up. In the condition of the lagging host it seems without the burden to pressure Croatia.

The result is Russia can take advantage of Josip Privaric error that makes a foul in front of the penalty box. Alan Dzagoev, who became a free-kick executor, broke the ball into the penalty area, right-back Mario Fernandes immediately greeted with a header and made it 2-2 again.

The match must be continued to the penalty shootout. Unfortunately, in this case the coach Cherchesov made little mistake. The reason, the 54-year coach pulled out Cheryshev in the second half and Aleksandr Golovin in the first extra round. Though both executors who succeeded in breaking goalkeeper David De Gea when penalties against Spain.

As many as two of the five penalty takers Russia failed to break into Croatia goalkeeper who escorted Danijel Subasic. Fyodor Smolov kick could be countered by Subasic, while Fernandes execution widened. Croatia itself only failed at Mateo Kovacic who kick pushed over Igor Akinfeev.

Croatia’s mental toughness deserves credit. Because this is the second time, Croatia won the penalty in the 2018 World Cup. In the last 16, Luka Modric and co. can beat Denmark 3-2 after in 90 minutes and extra round to draw 1-1.

Another factor that makes Croatia’s successful conquest of Russia is the midfield duo Ivan Rakitic and Modric in front of their defense ranks. Both players make Croatia balanced both in defense and attack. In the game Modric has 139 touches by releasing 102 passes which 87.3 percent of them are successful. While Rakitic did 111 touches by making 89 pass which 89,9 percent of them successful.

The report owned by Rakitic and Modric is much different from the Russian midfielder. Daler Kuzyaev only does 52 touches with 32 passes, and while Roman Zobnin has 61 touches and 37 passes.

In the semi-finals on Wednesday (11/7), Croatia will face England, one of the teams whose performances in this tournament is quite surprising. Before the start of the 2018 World Cup England was mentioned to have a champion target. However, looking at the current composition of squad of young players, it is difficult to predict the Three Lions will go so far.

Now, Gareth Southgate’s team has proven it. Although young, England are ready to welcome the challenge against Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semifinals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *