The late game on Saturday pits 2 teams that finished in unexpected positions in their respective groups, one overachieving and one underachieving. Regardless of how the group stages went, I think this game will be a close call between 2 pretty decent teams. Croatia have played slightly better than Portugal but the latter, as you saw in the final group game v Hungary, have the Ronaldo factor. Ronaldo can drag Portugal from the depths of despair and win them the game with the flick of a boot or movement of a head. This game will be harder to predict than the other 2 knockout stage games on Saturday.
Croatia will be very pleased with their performances in the Group Stage, managing to pip European Champions Spain to top spot by coming from behind to beat them 2-1 in the final game. They took 7 points from 3 games and really it should have been 9, however they lost concentration against Czech Republic and conceded 2 late goals including a penalty in added time. The Spain game was a strange one as Spain seemed to contribute to their own downfall as much as Croatia beat them, what David De Gea was doing is anyone's guess but they did beat them and they deserve credit for that. Croatia do have the players to go far in this competition but how far?
Portugal as I was saying before massively underachieved and conspired to finish 3rd behind Hungary and Iceland in their group which is pretty shocking. Portugal and Austria were clear favourites in Group F and should have cruised through but as it stands Austria have gone home and Portugal are still in by the skin of their teeth. Portugal need to take advantage of this lifeline but can they continue to do what they always seem to do in every tournament which is play terribly but still seem to go far in the competition? You can never rule it out.
So who will reach the quarter finals? For me I think Croatia can end Portugal's dream here but because of Portugal's strange tournament record you can't write them off.
Croatia have impressed me this tournament and they have some very good players who are just the right age and have just the right amount of experience to be dark horses for this tournament especially because their side of the draw does not have many amazing teams in it. If Croatia can win this then they'll be confident of going much further. I think Portugal's luck will run out here.
Portugal played out a 3-3 draw against Hungary in the last game and if they defend that badly against Croatia then they'll be in for a long evening. Croatia were also involved in a 2-2 draw in one of their games so there are goals in both of these teams and they can both be suspect defensively, this could be a high scoring game.
I can see Croatia scoring first and Ronaldo or Nani getting Portugal back in it before they lose concentration and Croatia bag another one late on. Croatia should beat Portugal on form and quality of players overall. Portugal's main chance is going to be if Ronaldo turns up and decides he's going to win the game by himself like we have seen him do so many times before. Can he do it again? I'm not so sure.
Whether it is 0-0 or 1-1 I think this game will be a draw at half time and all to play for in the second half, with Croatia nicking it late on. Both teams have the capacity to lose concentration but I think Croatia can hold out in this game.
Perisic scored in the last game against Spain and he is a top quality player with a ferocious shot. He will be shooting as soon as he gets the opportunity and he scores his fair share of goals at club and international level for a midfielder. He will have to be marked very tightly by Portugal if they're to stop him from scoring and his odds will be quite decent so worth sticking some money on.
These are both the key men for both sides that will need to have an excellent game if either team is to win the game and go through. The Real Madrid men will know all about each other's games and style of play and will be trying to stop them from doing what they both do best. Both have scored in the competition already and both are capable of producing magical moments.