Croatia have finally announced themselves on the big stage. They were big favourites to qualify alongside Brazil out of their group in the 2014 World Cup, but they failed disappointingly. In the Euros 2016, the same story of underachievement continued, and this was the last World Cup with World beaters like Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic playing together for their country. And they have showed the world just how good they are. A routine 2-0 win over Nigeria was solid, but what followed was unpredictable.
It was the stuff of dreams, something that the Croatians would have dreamt of ever since the Groups were announced. And it was only right to see two of their best players, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, scoring the goals that would humiliate and thrash Argentina. It was a powerful performance by a solid team whose defense did its job terrifically, whose midfield kept the ball moving at a quick pace and whose attackers ran themselves into the ground. Croatia capped it all off by beating Iceland with their second string team to be the only team so far to qualify with a perfect record.
Meanwhile, Denmark have quietly gone about their job of taking the mantle as the second best team in their group after France, with a convincing victory over Peru followed by two draws against a dogged Australia and second string France team. Yussuf Poulsen and Christian Eriksen have scored the only two goals of their tournament, while a solid defensive pairing of S. Kjaer and M. Jorgensen with A. Christensen playing as a converted Defensive midfielder for his country have diffused every opposition attack with conviction.
Christian Eriksen, Thomas Delaney, Kasper Dolberg and Yussuf Poulsen have all had a solid season with their clubs, and they have brought their club form to the national team, putting in assured performances to make them one of the most boring, yet solid team of the World Cup. They have stuck with a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Lasse Schone and Thomas Delaney connecting defense with the attacking midfielders. Christian Eriksen has played as the central attacking midfielder, with Pione Sisto and Yussuf Poulsen lending width while Nicolai Jorgensen and Kasper Dolberg will fight it out to start as the lone striker against Croatia.
Croatia will start the game as favourites, with Ante Rebic in goof form and Mario Mandzukic as hardworking as ever. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been in inspired form while Marcelo Brozovic has done exceptionally as the lone holding midfielder. Their main concern will be Dejan Lovren giving away a penalty against Iceland just a few minutes after coming on from the bench. Denmark will be looking to exploit the one-on-one deficiencies of the Liverpool defender, which will make for uninteresting battle. One thing is for sure, this game will be cagey, with not a lot of goals in it, so the team who scores first will be favourites to go all the way.