Croatia versus Denmark presents an intriguing matchup of contrasting styles of play. Croatia have been able to control games through possession and wide open play. Denmark have employed shrewd tactics, playing tight defensive football, but have also shown pace on the counterattack. Croatia are one of only three teams to win all of their group stage matches. They topped Group D with 9 points and a goal differential of +6, with a perfect record of three wins in three. Denmark were runners up in Group C with 5 points and a goal differential of +1, through two draws and a win.
Denmark have been stingy defensively, having allowed zero goals in open play in the three group phase games. The only goal scored against them was a spot kick resulting from a controversial penalty call versus Australia. Much of Denmark's defensive solidity comes from Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. As a reliable last line of defence, Schmeichel enables the back line to spread out and use the wings and free up the space on the counterattack. The player to watch from Denmark is Christian Eriksen. He is the ultimate playmaker in the middle of the park and has the technique to create his own shot, as well as be credible goal scoring threat from set pieces.
Croatia's midfield has enabled them to control the tempo of all three matches they won in the group phase. Luka Modric is the star who plays box to box and will power the Croatian attack. Ivan Rakitic offers some balance on the creative side of the ball, while Ivan Perisic offers a steadying defensive influence in the midfield. Croatia's main goal scoring threat up front is veteran Mario Mandzukic. While he is always involved in the attack, he has yet to find the net in the World Cup. For Croatia to continue a deep run in this tournament, he will have to find his scoring boots.
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