Half with Most Goals: Second Half – 6/5
Denmark haven’t got this far playing expansive, exciting football – their final group game versus France had supporters jeering as the teams played out the tournaments only 0-0 draw so far. They’ve scored just two goals; a second half counter attack against the over-committed Peruvians, and a sublime finish from their one class player Christian Eriksen.
That came against Australia early, and though the Aussies equalised from the spot shortly after, Denmark didn’t threaten the Antipodean goal much in the remaining hour of the game.
Their recent record prior to Russia isn’t all that encouraging either. They’ve scored seven goals in ten games since Martin O’Neill allowed Christian Eriksen the freedom of Lansdowne Road to bash a hat-trick in a 5-1 playoff win (we’re not bitter, honest). Two of those seven goals came in a 3-2 defeat to Jordan – the country, not the “media personality”, though both are of a similar footballing profile.
Don’t expect Denmark to make the play in this game. Croatia carry a threat – Mandzukic, Kramaric and Perisic, along with Rakitic Modric who can strike from distance – but, unless they unleash a worldy, or the Danish defence cocks up like Willy Caballero did in the Croats 3-0 win over Argentina, we’d expect this to be a stalemate going into the second half. If that’s broken, we’d guess it will come as bodies tire.
Penalty Awarded: Yes – 6/4
This World Cup is already in record territory for the number of penalties awarded. VAR has been held responsible by many, though referees’ willingness to punish those who view set-pieces as a surprise strip-search opportunity has also been a factor.
Given the likely pattern of play in this game – Croatia dominating the ball while the Scandinavians look to strike on the break – the probabilty of another spot kick being added to the total in this game looks good.
Croatia have the ball players to pick through the Danish defensive banks into the 18-yard box, while Yusuf Poulsen and Christian Eriksen are capable of breaking at speed, enticing a defender into a rash last-ditch challenge. 6/4 for a penalty to be given sounds like a reasonable punt to us.
Method of Victory: Either Team on Penalties – 7/2
The Danes would likely take a penalty shootout now if they could. Croatia have impressed in the opening round, but it’s doubful they’ve faced as organised and determinedly defensive team thus far.
This will be a real test of the perennial dark horses. Can they break down Age Hareide’s tough rear guard?
Mandzukic is the top scorer in the squad, averaging one goal every three games, but at age 32 he is not the force he once was. Goals will not be easy to come by. We can see it going 120 minutes and being decided from the spot.
*All odds correct at time of posting