Of all the sides at the World Cup thus far, it’s Croatia who have looked superb most of all in their setup, performances and pacing. The team swept their group effortlessly, produced a famous win over Argentina, and were even able to rest several players in a win over Iceland. Only a silly penalty denied them the chance to go through the groups without conceding a goal. However, it remains to be seen if this group can match the dizzy heights achieved by their older peers’ semi-final appearance in 1998, let alone anything more than that. Croatia’s weakness has been their inability to achieve the right level of shooting accuracy to their myriad of chances, but if they manage to find that formula, they’ll be hard pressed not to feel optimistic to achieve something truly special.

Croatia vs Denmark Prediction and Preview

By contrast, Denmark were broadly unimpressive in their performances, with goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel proving to be one of the key differences in their progress. The Danish stopper’s 14 saves and 93% save rate rank in the top 5 in both categories in the tournament thus far. Denmark have also played a very tentative brand of football; their shot volume is the lowest of any of the remaining teams in the competition.

Tactical Considerations:

Zlatko Dalic’s side have used three different systems for their three fixtures, with all of them delivering victory, the most resounding of which came against the much favoured Argentina. This makes it tricky to anticipate the choice in side, although it’s fair to say captain Luka Modric is a guaranteed starter. Given Denmark’s propensity to rely on transitional counters rather than robust physicality, a hybrid of the transitional prowess of the 4141 against Argentina and the more deliberate controlled 4231 against Nigeria will be applied. The key decisions will likely come in midfield, and it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Rakitic and Modric against applied in advanced midfield roles with Brozovic, or even Badelj used to occupy Eriksen in defensive respects.

Denmark switched from 4231 in their opening games to 4141 against France, but given the need to win the game, they may favour a switch back to the system that helped them score goals. Denmark’s broader lack of creativity is a pressing concern which they’ll need to solve quickly, especially considering the over-reliance on Christian Eriksen to deliver most of the solutions in that regard. Right back Henrik Dalsgaard has been the other shining light besides Kasper Schmeichel, but the rest of the team is due considerable improvement if they’re to beat Croatia.

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Match Facts & Summary

  Croatia Denmark
World Cup Base Leningrad Anapa
2014 World Cup Finish Group Stage Did Not Qualify
Total Head to Head Record Played 5, Croatia 2 Wins, Denmark 2 Wins
Head to Head (World Cup Only) Never played against each other in World Cup
Penalty Shootout Record None contested None contested
Odds – Result 0.93 4.01
Odds – To Win World Cup 11.00 (6th favourite) 100.00
Best Odds – Golden Boot Modric (67.00) Eriksen (97.00)
Best Odds – Golden Ball Modric (12.25) Eriksen (57.00)

Our Prediction:

Croatia’s impressiveness has come from the extent to which their wins have been by design, and by deliberate tactical thinking. Add obvious talents in the ability to manage games, especially in midfield (Modric, Rakitic, Badelj, Kovacic) and Croatia don’t lack for talent to create good quality chances and manage the ball to favourable conclusions in low scoring affairs. Denmark have energy and solid counter attacking play, with an excellent goalkeeper in support, but unless they can solve the issue of how to create more chances and score more goals, the best use Schmeichel will be is probably in a penalty shootout – if they can hold out that long. Failing that, Croatia should find their way relatively comfortably to a quarterfinal meeting with either Spain or Russia.

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* Please note – odds mentioned above are subject to change, so always check the latest published odds to be fully certain before betting.

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