Before the tournament started, not many were predicting that Russia will be making it far in World Cup 2018, but here they are already one step away from a semifinal spot and obviously two games for a potential final.
However, Sbornaya certainly not trying to think too far ahead as their focus for now is simply in facing Croatia and getting that last four seat in front of their own home crowd.
Playing with such strong support of their fans, Stanislav Cherchesov’s side will be hoping that they can put on another brave performance, just like what they did against Spain.
It will definitely be another tough battle for the host nation, knowing that Croatia have been one of the best teams in this current tournament.
Beating Spain on penalties pretty much brought that extra spirit and confidence for Russia and Cherchesov is hoping that his players can simply give another solid display on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Vatreni themselves also won their tie against Denmark on penalties, so mentally and physically they experienced a similar feel like their opponent.
Remembering the strong tension they felt during that shoot out, Croatia head coach, Zlatko Dalic, might actually prefer that his side won’t get into that stage again this upcoming weekend.
On paper, Luka Modric and co have the talents to overcome Russia even on normal time, but this World Cup so far has shown that anything can happen, so Dalic’s side must remain cautious and give their all until the final whistle.
Probable line up:
Russia: Igor Akinfeev(g); Mario Fernandes, Ilya Kutepov, Sergey Ignashevich, Fedor Kudryashov; Roman Zobnin, Daler Kuzyaev; Aleksandr Samedov, Aleksandr Golovin, Denis Cheryshev; Artem Dzyuba.
Croatia: Danijel Subasic(g); Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic; Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic, Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic; Mario Mandzukic