#WorldCup Day 18: What to look out for

Spain take on hosts Russia in the knockout stages of the World Cup before Denmark take on Croatia on Sunday. Spain and Croatia head into their games as favourites.

Spain's players acknowledge the crowd at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group B football match between Spain and Morocco at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad on 25 June, 2018. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Feature Match: Spain v Russia
Spain Key Players:
Diego Costa (Striker)
The former-Chelsea man has scored three goals so far this World Cup, with two of those coming in Spain’s 3-3 draw against Portugal. Costa has an insatiable hunger for goals and victory; which will makes him a formidable force up front. His pressing from the front gives defenders very little time on the ball. With distribution from a strong midfield, the striker will feel confident of receiving at least one killer pass in the ninety minutes.
Isco (Midfielder)
Despite having no assists to his name this tournament, the Real Madrid midfielder has been an instrumental figure for Spain thus far. This manifested in him scoring in Spain’s final group game against Morocco. Down the left, alongside Andres Iniesta, Isco’s passing has been sublime – all 279 of them. From deeper in midfield, Isco will give the Russian right-backs a hard time.

Denis Cheryshev (Midfielder)
The midfielder has been a key figure in Russia progressing to the knockout stages. Despite scoring an own goal against Uruguay, his work rate is, arguably, second to none in the Russian side. He will have to be on top of his game against a strong midfield that includes Andres Iniesta, Isco, Marcos Asensio and Thiago.
Fedor Smolov (Forward)
Playing just in front of Cheryshev and Aleksandr Golovin, the forward has made good use of the distribution by his teammates. If he is to take advantage of Golovin’s key passes against a strong Spanish defence, Russia will have a chance of pulling off a micro-miracle in Moscow.
Ahmed’s Prediction: Spain 2-1 Russia

Croatia v Denmark – Match Preview
Denmark, apart from Uruguay, go into the game with a 100% record with the highlight of their group stage results being a 3-0 win over Argentina. The Croats go into the game as the second highest scorers in the World Cup thus far. Denmark have managed to score just two goals so far – and remain unbeaten heading into their clash against Croatia. That will need to change if they hope to progress in regulation time.
Ahmed’s Prediction: Croatia 2-0 Denmark