Day two of the knockout stages and we have two more interesting matches to look forward to as Spain take on Russia before Croatia face Denmark.
Our football betting expert is back with his best World Cup bets ahead of both games on Sunday.
Spain v Russia
Top of Group B face the runners-up of Group A as Spain take on Russia in what looks an intriguing contest on paper.
Spain somehow managed to top their group, despite never really looking their fluent selves and will be grateful to some contentious VAR decisions which saw Portugal and Iran draw.
The last-minute managerial change is clearly still taking time to adjust to and in their three group games, they only really showed their quality in small patches against Portugal.
The 2008 winners will need their big guns to step up as the knockout stages go on if they are to win their second World Cup.
Fernando Hierro’s side are the 4/7 favourites for this one.
Hierro’s men face a Russian side who thrilled the home crowds with their victories over Saudi Arabia and Egypt in their first two fixtures.
They looked certain to top Group A, before being comfortably beaten 3-0 by Uruguay in their final group game.
The lowest-ranked side in the World Cup come into this one as the 5/1 outsiders with Grosvenorsport.com.
As the odds suggest, this one has a fairly one-sided look to it with tenth in the world facing the 70th ranked side.
As average as Spain have been so far, I expect them to advance to the quarter finals fairly comfortably. Yes, they have the home crowd to contend with, but this is one of the more experienced squads in the tournament and as we saw against Uruguay, the Russians tend to come up short when they face the better sides.
There isn’t much value in backing Spain at 4/7, so instead I’d advise backing them to win to nil at 11/8.
Croatia v Denmark
Of the two ties, this looks the tighter affair with both looking fairly closely matched. Both sides have a number of solid-enough players, but their teams are taken to the next level by a couple of world-class players.
For Croatia, it is their dynamic duo of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic who run the show with consummate ease and their performances so far, particularly against Argentina have been very impressive. They are the two the rest of the team look to and more often than not, Modric and Rakitic deliver.
The Group D winners are Grosvenorsport.com’s 4/5 favourites for this one.
While Croatia have two stars, Denmark have Christian Eriksen who has brought his form for Tottenham into this World Cup with a goal and an assist in his country’s opening three fixtures.
As with Modric and Rakitic for Croatia, Denmark will be looking to their diminutive midfielder to open up the Croatian defence on Sunday.
Åge Hareide’s side are 7/2 to reach the last eight.
Many people saw Croatia as lively outsiders before the tournament got underway with a number of their key players having plenty of tournament experience. Their performances in the group have been impressive and they’ll be happy with where their at as we enter the business stage of the competition.
I fancy the Croatians to take this one and 4/5 looks pretty solid value, while I wouldn’t put anyone off having a few quid on Ivan Rakitic to score anytime at 9/2.
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