SWOT analysis: Russia vs Croatia

Before Russia takes on Croatia in a quarterfinal match-up, here's how the teams are stacked against each other.

In attack, Luka Modric and Aleksandr Golovin will be crucial for their respective teams.   -  AFP

Russia qualifying from Group A wasn’t a surprise, but its result against Spain was certainly impressive. It was rewarded with a last-eight berth for its defensive organisation and high level of focus for 120 minutes against a good passing team. Croatia has always had the talent, which, this time, is being combined with purpose by Luka Modric and co., who have hence become the tournament’s dark horse. 

Ahead of the quarterfinal clash between the two teams, Sportstar does a SWOT analysis. 

Strength

Russia’s strength is its defensive organisation. The style of play and positioning may not make for great viewing, but that combination has proved effective. The challenge for Russia is to follow up the defensive performance against Spain with another, against a team with similar qualities as La Roja. 

Croatia has been one of the complete teams at this World Cup. Having overcome different challenges already, it will be looking forward to the Russian challenge. 

Weakness 

Russia hasn’t scored from open play in 180 minutes and if the emphasis is on defending and stifling the opposition once again, it may want Croatia not to be at its incisive best and leading the match to a penalty shootout. 

Croatia doesn’t have a weakness as such. It didn’t had the rhythm in its wins at the group-stage, but in the last-16 match against Denmark, Danijel Subasic’s brilliance in the penalty shootout saved it from elimination. 

Opportunities

How this match plays out will depend on Russia’s setup. It could quite easily be a case of attack against defence, with the first goal carrying great significance for either side. 

Akinfeev could have a busy day in goal if Russia decide to sit back and absorb pressure and will be crucial if the match goes into penalties.   -  AFP

 

Threats 

Luka Modric is the biggest threat to Russia. He has been one of the standout players in the tournament. Against a packed Russian defence, Modric will have his work cut out, though.

Igor Akinfeev will be the key to Russia’s chances of progressing further. He will expect to be a busy man in goal and if the match goes into a penalty shootout, Akinfeev, like he showed against Spain, can deliver.

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