Argentina vs Croatia
Otamendi has been an ever-present in the Argentina backline so far this World Cup, and that has certainly helped in accumulating passing numbers that make for fantastic reading.
Otamendi sits 2nd in the Argentina squad, behind Rodrigo De Paul, for passes P/90 with 87.5. However, the fact that he is yet to miss a single minute of action makes him strong pick for the passing markets, where he’ll have ample time to rack them up.
The Benfica defender is yet to drop below the necessary line of 70 passes at the World Cup, with 96, 86, 92, 98, and a further 92 passes in each of his 5 games so far.
Croatia’s stats from their previous outing against Brazil are also worth taking into account here. Not a single Brazilian midfielder managed 70 or more passes, testament to the dogged pressing style employed by the Croatian midfield themselves.
However, all 4 members of the Brazilian backline managed at least 85 passes against Croatia, with 3 of them amassing more than 90. If that’s anything to go by, then Otamendi should comfortably hit the 70 he’s been hitting all tournament.
Marcelo Brozovic was like a man possessed against Brazil and if his performance there is anything to go by, then we can expect even more in the way of fouls tonight.
Of the likely Croatian starting XI, only midfield partner Luka Modric averages more fouls P/90. At 1.95 P/90, the Inter Milan man still contributes to a hefty number of fouls.
Brozovic gave away 4 fouls against Brazil after having already given away 1, 1, 2, and 3 fouls in his prior games.
He’ll likely have to go face to face with Argentina’s captain and talisman Lionel Messi tonight, as the little magician drops deep into pockets of space.
Messi has been fouled 3.58 times P/90 this World Cup, and was fouled a whopping 8 times against the Netherlands.
Midfield pairing Frenkie De Jong, and Marten De Roon contributed to 4 of these, and with defender Jurrien Timber stepping into midfield to foul the Argentinian on multiple occasions, the prospect of Brozovic doing the same looks good.
Still yet to show his age, Luka Modric has put in the kind of performances at this World Cup that saw him take Croatia to the World Cup final just four years ago.
At the age of 37, Modric’s energetic playstyle is a breath of fresh air, and his willingness to get stuck into tackles hasn’t gone unnoticed.
With 2.22 fouls P/90, he tops the the ranks amongst his Croatian compatriots. In his 5 games so far, Modric has given away 3, 2, 1, 2 and 4 fouls respectively, hitting the necessary 2 fouls on 4 out of 5 occasions.
Much like Brozovic, Modric is going to be ingrained in an incredible midfield battle tonight. Not only will he have to contend with Messi on occasion (3.58 fouls drawn P/90), but he will also have to keep an eye on the likes of De Paul and Mac Allister.
The two Argentine midfielders are fouled 1.70, and 2.05 times P/90, a midfield as talented and energetic as that means that the Croatian captain is likely to have his work cut out tonight.
Another ever-present, this time in the Croatian defence, the masked Josko Gvardiol has been sensational in the World Cup thus far.
Defending aside, his passing numbers make for solid reading as well, and 50+ certainly isn’t outside of the realms of possibility for a defender who’s hit that total in each of his 5 games at the tournament.
Gvardiol sits 3rd in the Croatian squad for passes P/90 with 68.2, and has managed 116, 51, 62, 92, and 68 passes in each of Croatia’s matches.
Again the stats accumulated by the Netherlands in their quarter-final against Argentina help for context here.
Van Dijk, and Timber managed 97 passes apiece against Argentina, with Ake also contributing a further 75. The entire Dutch back line hit at least 70, testament to lack of a press coming from Argentina’s forwards.
If Gvardiol is afforded the same time and space tonight, then 50 is a total that he can hit with ease.