After a thrilling opening round of knockout action with France and Uruguay both progressing, Day 18 sees Russia aim to keep their hopes of home glory alive as they face 2010 winners, Spain before Croatia meet Denmark in the evening game.

 

Spain vs Russia

Hosts, Russia will be hoping home advantage will help them here against a Spanish team, who are struggling defensively.

I can see Denis Cheryshev vs Diego Costa being the key battle here because both players have scored three goals so far, with Cheryshev’s all coming from his left foot compared to Costa who has scored with his right foot.

Both have also had eight shots with Cheryshev managing five on target with two being blocked compared to Costa, who has put most of his shots off target.  

Given how insecure the defence can be for both sides, Cheryshev and Costa will really fancy their chances of getting some more goals. 

La Roja also are however dominant when passing the ball around, as evidenced by their completed passes average which is much better than everyone else left in the knockouts.

Add in their recent record of two draws and four losses against Russia and I fancy Spain to just see this one through.

Prediction: Spain 2-1 Russia 

 

Croatia vs Denmark 

Croatia will be hoping that their squad rotation from the 2-1 win over Iceland pays off here, against a fairly uninspiring Denmark side. 

To get here, Croatia were just one of three teams to escape their group unbeaten but their only conceded goal came from the penalty spot, underlining how strong they’re compared to other countries left in the competition. 

Denmark meanwhile have scored just twice and have the joint third lowest total number of shots (25) with just as many being on target (9) but blocked (4) as those off target (12). 

Those figures are poor but highlights that this Danish side shouldn’t be written off, having somehow gotten this far with those stats and are unbeaten in last 18 matches. 

Personally, I can see Denmark trying to take this to penalties and with such a tightly poised head to head record of two wins and a draw apiece, this will be competitive till the final whistle. 

I however can see Croatia pulling through here with a starting eleven full of fresh players. 

Prediction: Croatia 2-0 Denmark

 

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