Friday, November 24, 2017

Prediction: Croatia vs Greece

Milos Markovic in Free Soccer Predictions, World Cup 7 Nov 2017

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Verdict: Under 2.5 goals

Best Odds: 7/12

Bookmaker: 888Sport

Euro 2004 champions Greece travel to Zagreb looking to make a gigantic step towards the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification after a difficult three-year period. Croatia boast a strong home record and will be keen to win and remove some pressure of their backs.

Croatia

Croatian national side has endured some difficult times during the World Cup qualifiers. The Balkan nation had been installed as one of the main favourites to top Group I but failed to meet the expectations after suffering a disappointing slump in form during the final stages.

Having been defeat in Turkey 1-0, Croatia were forced to settle for a 1-1 home draw with Finland which almost cost them a place in the playoffs. Manager Ante Cacic was given a boot ahead of the crucian qualifier against Ukraine, but Croats rose up to the occasion and recorded a vital away win in Ukraine to book their place in the playoffs. Croatia boasts a quality side packed with players such as Real Madrid star Luka Modric or Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic, but the lack of team spirit was the main thing held against the Croatian side in the qualifiers. Croats face a daunting task against former European champions and will be hoping for an inspired performance at Stadion Maksimir on Thursday.

Team News

Fiorentina midfielder Milan Badelj suffered an injury that will keep him sidelined for the home clash vs Greece. Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren is looking to a redemption following his recent slump in form.

Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic picked up a knock against Benevento and is training on a special program as Croatians hope to have their frontman ready to feature on Thursday.

Greece

Former European champions Greece had an excellent qualifying campaign which saw them lose only one of ten matches in Group H.

Greece were given a tough task of hunting down a ruthless Belgian side, however, and were forced to settle for second place in the end. Michael Skibbe’s men suffered a worrying drop in form midway through the qualifying process having gone through four successive draws before slumping to a defeat at the hands of Belgium. Fortunately, Greeks mustered enough strength to get back to winning ways and pip Bosnia to second in the standings by two points, thanks to back-to-back triumphs against Cyprus and Gibraltar. Greece displayed strength in character as a nation looking for a redemption after three barren years. Head coach Skibbe will be hoping his team will be able to extend a fantastic away form which saw Greece win five and draw two of their last seven matches on the road.

Team News

Talisman striker Kostas Mitroglu is expected to lead the line in attack for Greece.

The visitors could have big problems in the back, however, knowing that AS Roma defender Kostas Manolas is suspended after breaching the fair play regulations against Cyprus.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Greece are unbeaten in their last 7 matches on the road
  • Croatia either won or dealt all of their last 5 home games
  • Kostas Mitroglu scored 6 matches for Greece thus far in the qualifiers
  • Croatia last beat Greece in 1997
  • Croatia managed only two clean sheets in last seven matches

Conclusion

Croatia are given a home-turf advantage but Greece are a force to be reckoned with and are coming to Zagreb high on confidence as they look to send a clear message that Euro 2014 champions have what it takes to go to Russia. We expect a tight match, however, with not too many goals on each end.

Verdict: Under 2.5 goals

Best Odds: 7/12

Bookmaker: 888Sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Milos Markovic


Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia Sportske.net, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently Soccernews.com and Futbolgrad.com. His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.

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