Croatia midfielder Luka Modric plays down Christian Eriksen midfield battle

Ivan Rakitic of Croatia scores his team's third goal past Wilfredo Caballero of Argentina during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Argentina and Croatia at Nizhny

Group D victor Croatia will be favourites against Group C runner-up Denmark when the two teams clash in FIFA World Cup 2018 pre-quarterfinal.

The round of 16 match at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Sunday (NZT Monday) was book-ended with drama with two goals in the opening four minutes for a 1-1 scoreline, and then with four minutes to go in injury time a Croatian spot kick was saved.

They could have wrapped up the result five minutes from the end of extra time but Luka Modric had his penalty saved by Kasper Schmeichel. He wasn't just an effective attacking outlet, but an extra defender as well.

With Messi and Ronaldo both out of the tournament, Croatia captain Luka Modric has risen to become a household name with stellar play.

That left Croatia on the brink of winning it - and Rakitic obliged, rolling his penalty into the corner to spark huge celebrations.

'He's a wonderful player but they have other skilful players and we need to handle him collectively, ' he added.

That apart, it was an uneventful start to the second half with none of the frenetic pace that had characterised the beginning of the first, Knudsen crossing towards Andreas Cornelius but Subasic claiming.

Rebic has Knudsen on a plate on the right edge for Croatia! Their tally of two goals is the lowest of the 16 teams left in the competition, while only three sides of the 32 that started Russian Federation 2018 had fewer shots on goal in the group phase. But the Croatians were in no mood to let Denmark enjoy the unprecedented lead for very long as they too found the net soon after. He curls the ball into the box to find Lovren but he heads it wide.

Rebic, along with Andrej Kramaric and Ivan Perisic may feature ahead of the midfield duo of Modric and Rakitic.

In 1998, Denmark made a run to the quarterfinals, while Croatia lost in the semis and beat the Netherlands in the third-place consolation match.

Josip Pivaric (for Strinic 81) - 5 - Brought on for the tiring legs of Strinic and filled in at left-back comfortably. In goal is Leicester City star Kasper Schmeichel. Modric whips the ball in but it gets cleared by the Danish defenders.

Striker Yussuf Poulsen returned for Denmark after suspension.

Lasse Schone (for Christensen 45) - 6 - Transformed the tempo of Denmark's play when he entered the field.

The Tottenham Hotspur playmaker is more than capable of producing magical moments, and he will be the man Denmark look to to win the game.

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