The knockout stages of the World Cup are underway and it’s a time when the pressure really builds on the nations involved as just one error could see the dream over. There are many close match-ups in the last 16 and Croatia vs Denmark is a tie that could be defined by the small margins. Croatia have been one of the most impressive sides in Russia, with their magnificent 3-0 win over Argentina arguably the best team performance so far. Yet, they won’t have it their own way against a Danish side that are extremely tough to beat.
Croatia were one of just a few countries that progressed to the second round with maximum points, beating Nigeria, Argentina and Iceland to get off to a perfect start. The final win also came with a much-changed side, highlighting the strength in depth that Zlatko Dalic has in his squad. The star men though are Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic who have been key to helping the Croats control the midfield no matter who they are up against.
Meanwhile, Denmark have not been as spectacular, grinding out the points to progress. They somehow beat Peru, who missed a penalty, before drawing with Australia and then picking up another point against France in what was an awful watch for the neutral. However, they won’t care as they’ve done what was needed and will relish the role as underdog in Nizhny Novgorod.
Here we will give you Croatia vs Denmark betting tips, look at where the game will be won, the key players and a Croatia vs Denmark prediction for the last 16 clash.
Our Croatia vs Denmark Prediction: Croatia 1-0 Denmark
Our Croatia vs Denmark prediction tips is for a very tight game that perhaps won’t be the most exciting but ultimately we expect Croatia to progress because of that extra quality in key areas.
Given the manner of their victories, many observers are wondering whether Croatia can go all the way, particularly as they’ve ended up on the easier side of the draw. They have the talent all over the pitch. Dejan Lovren is excelling at centre-back, Modric has been incredible with Rakitic not far behind and a front three of Mario Mandzukic, Ante Rebic and Ivan Perisic has pace, power and goals. Such variety going forward and quality in midfield means they can score in many ways and once they are in front they are capable at shutting games down.
For Denmark, there isn’t really that variation or quality in the final third, instead there is a reliance on one man – Christian Eriksen. The Spurs midfielder is crucial to his nation and is the main reason they made it to Russia, whilst he’s already scored a stunner against Australia. There are decent players around him, like Yuri Poulsen and Pione Sisto but he is their chief threat and will have to be on top form for the Danes to progress.
Our recommended tip – Croatia to win
That extra quality over the pitch, particularly in the final third, should give Croatia the edge but it’s going to be a tough game.
Denmark are a side who are comfortable defending, they have a good shape, are happy to concede possession and enjoy the challenge as an underdog, so they are certainly not to be underestimated. However, if they concede the first goal it’s a huge challenge for them and they have also looked vulnerable at times.
The Croatia attack is strong and they have a good balance to the team. The full-backs attack well, the midfielders get forward to shoot from range and Mandzukic is a target man that can bring it all together. Having beaten an Argentina side led by Lionel Messi, they will feel confident in stopping Eriksen and if they do that you would fancy them to win.
We’re not expecting a classic and one moment of magic could win this tie, but there are many more sources for that magic on the Croatia team than the Danish XI, so backing them to win and continue this good form seems the way to go.
The clash in Nizhny Novgorod will be the sixth meeting between the nations and the first at the World Cup and results have been even in the past. Croatia have two wins, Denmark have two and the other was drawn between the sides.
As mentioned, Croatia have been one of the standout teams in Russia. Unlike other nations, they aren’t totally reliant on individuals to win games for them, instead they look a complete team. They have a clear way of playing, passing through the midfield, get good width from the full-backs and have threats in the final third. Everything is going to plan so far and they will fancy their chances of making a real mark on this tournament now.
Alternatively, Denmark have not impressed and neutrals will suggest they’re lucky to be here. They have only played well in spells in games, often conceding possession, territory and defending in numbers which hasn’t been a good watch. However, there is a spirit in the side that is unquestionable, they have a strong defence, a fine goalkeeper in Kasper Schmeichel and Eriksen. They know their strengths, play to them and in a knockout game are a dangerous opponent.
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Players to watch – Luka Modric & Christian Eriksen
Modric would be a strong contender for player of the tournament if it was awarded now. The Real Madrid man has been sensational, scoring two goals and controlling play. His display against Argentina was superb, he ran the show with his ability to play short and long, to break past opponents and to find key passes. He is arguably the best in the world in his position and Rakitic alongside him isn’t bad either! If Denmark sit deep, as expected, his vision and creativity could be key to unlocking the defence.
For the Danes, it would be unfair to say they are a one-man team but it’s understandable why people may think that. The former Ajax man is a cut above most of his teammates and is their main attacking threat. He has the freedom to float around and find space and delivers when he gets a chance. Everyone knows about Eriksen’s ability and if Denmark are to beat this talented Croatia side you suspect he will play a major part.