Russia meet Croatia on Saturday in the last match to be played in Sochi at this year’s FIFA World Cup quarter-finals.
Fisht Stadium has already witnessed some of the most intense and spectacular action of Russia 2018 and the local fans will be hoping to bid a fond farewell to the venue by seeing the hosts advance to the semi-finals.
Both teams came through tough battles in the Round of 16, in matches held only a few hours apart. Despite enjoying precious little of the ball against Spain, the Russians fought tooth and nail to protect their goal and eventually prevailed in a penalty shootout.
The Croatians were also taken to the wire by Denmark. Following a frenetic start during which both teams scored in the first five minutes, Zlatko Dalic’s men were forced to endure a prolonged test of their nerves as the match went into extra time before ultimately prevailing after spot kicks.
It remains to be seen which of the two teams recovers from their emotional exertions quickest. The Russians will be looking to draw on every ounce of support that their fervent fans can muster in order to overcome Croatia’s individual and collective talent.
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Did you know?
Out of their five World Cup campaigns, this is the third time that Croatia have come up against the hosts. They have not had much luck previously, however, with a 2-1 defeat against France in the semi-finals in 1998 being followed by a 3-1 loss to Brazil in the Opening Match of the 2014 edition.
Possible line-ups Russia: Igor Akinfeev; Mario Fernandes, Ilya Kutepov, Sergey Ignashevich, Fedor Kudryashov; Roman Zobnin, Daler Kuzyaev; Aleksandr Samedov, Aleksandr Golovin, Denis Cheryshev; Artem Dzyuba
Croatia: Danijel Subasic; Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic; Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic, Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic; Mario Mandzukic
The games kick-offs at 9:00PM Kenyan time.
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