Today’s Predictions: Croatia Vs Nigeria
Croatia 2 – 0 Nigeria
Croatia vs. Nigeria Odds
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The 8th match of the FIFA World Cup 2018 sees Croatia take on Nigeria, with both teams having a very similar reputation within their own continents.
- Date : 17th June 2018
- Time : 12:30 AM (IST)
- Venue : Kalininrad Stadium
Croatia have long been one of the trickiest sides to navigate against in Europe, full of potential but never quite cross the finishing line. Nigeria have a pretty much similar story in Africa and hence this could be an exciting match up.
FIFA World Cup Qualification
Croatia had a decent qualifying phase, where the overall quality of their midfield was the primary reason that they managed to finish second behind Iceland in the group, to set up a play-off tie against Greece. The Croats won that play-off comfortably, enhancing their reputation as play-off specialists as the final score read 4-1.
Nigeria had to wade their way through a very tricky group containing Algeria, Zambia and Cameroon. The Green Eagles dominated through the group stage with 14 points, and gave an entire nation hope for a good showing at the World Cup.
Croatia have been going through a mixed run of form in recent months, with 3 wins and 2 defeats in their last 6 matches. They secured an impressive away victory against Mexico in tough conditions, to prove their mettle away from home as well, but were soon humbled by Brazil a week later. They would be looking to re-organize before the tournament starts to make full use of the undisputed talent at their disposal.
Nigeria have been in comparatively poor form of late. Despite an amazing 4-2 win against Argentina last November, followed by an impressive 1-0 win against Poland, they could not keep up the momentum and have been winless their last 4 matches, including damaging defeats against Serbia and Czech Republic.
Head To Head Record
These two nations have never against played each other in a recognized match before.
Croatia have a fully fit squad to choose from, with Ivan Rakitic also brushing off his injury scare. They tend to pack the midfield and then play with a sole target man, a tactic which has seen them fend of sides much bigger than them in recent times. Many of their players play for some of the biggest clubs in world football, and would be targeting a deep run in this year’s World Cup.
Nigeria have several current and ex Premier League players in their starting 11, a testament that the team does have the winning mentality instilled in it’s core members. The team’s morale and belief in each other has often carried them past all kinds of hurdles, and they would be aiming to cause an upset and move to the next round.
Players To Watch Out For
Croatia have one of the most talented midfields in Europe, with Real Madrid pair Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic pulling the strings behind Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic and Inter pair Perisic and Brozovic. With a front 3 of Mandzukic, Kalinic and Kramaric, Croatia have the potential to cause massive upsets in this tournament. Dejan Lovren and Corluka are the big names in defence.
Nigeria have several Premier League mainstays carrying them for the past few years. Captain John Obi Mikel is nothing less than a Chelsea legend, having won every trophy at the club in his 9 years there. Chelsea winger Victor Moses is in stellar form and always ups his game during international tournaments. Youngsters Alex Iwobi and Iheanacho can also show the world what they are capable of.
Nigeria Vs Croatia Betting Odds And Key Statistics
- Croatia are favourites for this opening clash against Nigeria, considering their form is comparatively better than their African counterparts.
- Croatia’s David Suker won the golden boot at the 1998 World Cup, as the team won 5 matches. In contrast, they scored 6 goals in the group stages at the 2014 World Cup but still could not make it past the group stage.
- Nigeria first qualified for the World Cup in 1994 and have qualified almost every time after that as well.
- Nigeria have a decent attack and a strong midfield, but a comparatively weaker defence and that’s where Croatia can hurt them. Mario Mandzukic to score at anytime is a bet we highly recommend.
- Both teams are better offensively, hence we also suggest betting on the both teams to score market. For this fixture.
Both these teams are regular at the World Cups, but neither of them usually end up making a mark. With Argentina and Iceland the other two competitors this could be a very closely contested group and a win here would be priceless for either of these teams. We expect Croatia to take this tie by a slight margin as their star midfielders are all clicking at the right time.
Our Predicted Scoreline: Croatia 2-1 Nigeria