Thursday, June 17, 2021

Prediction: Belgium vs Croatia

Tom Dunstan in Free Soccer Predictions 4 Jun 2021

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Verdict: Both teams to score 

Best Odds: 7/10

Bookmaker: Unibet

Two sides making their final appearance before heading into this summer’s European Championships, Belgium will welcome Croatia to Brussels for a friendly matchup on Sunday night.

Belgium

Starting with the hosts, while Belgium might have thought they had been handed a real chance when Greece came to town earlier in the week, The Red Devils failed to get their preparations off to a flyer. Despite taking an expected 1-0 lead in Brussels on Thursday night, Roberto Martínez’s side were left frustrated after having to settle for a 1-1 draw on home soil. Although they might have unleashed the likes of Inter Milan ace Romelu Lukaku from the start, the one-time Wigan boss saw his side put in a very questionable second-half performance. Failing to muster a single shot on target in the second 45 and clearly missing an injured Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium have largely failed to find top gear over the past eight months. Along with having to settle for another 1-1 draw against a rugged Czech Republic side in their World Cup qualifying campaign back in March, Martinez has been vocal about his side’s recent issues at the back. It should be noted that Belgium have mustered just a single clean sheet in their last five straight contests across all formats.

Team News

After not featuring against Greece in midweek, there still remain doubts over whether Real Madrid ace Eden Hazard will make an appearance on Sunday.

However, Hazard’s Madrid teammate Thibaut Courtois should return between the sticks this weekend.

Croatia

As for the visitors, once again coming under real scrutiny earlier in the week, Croatia have rather publically failed to build off of their success at the 2018 World Cup finals. Shocking many as they secured a showdown against France three years ago, Zlatko Dalić’s side have really gained a reputation for their continued inconsistencies. Hoping that they had bounced back in March after opening their World Cup qualifying campaign with a stunning 1-0 loss against Slovenia on foreign soil, The Blazers once again limped their way over the finish line in midweek. Despite being tipped as a landslide pick with many to gain some perfect momentum against Armenia in Velika Gorica on Tuesday, Croatia could only play out a sluggish 1-1 draw on home soil. Only just about managing to avoid the drop down to League B in the Nations League after a torrid run last year, this weekend’s guests have remarkably managed to win just a pair of their last eight matchups across all formats.

Team News

Picking up an ankle injury against Armenia in midweek, Josip Brekalo will not feature on Sunday night.

Linking up with the squad Croatia on Friday, Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic should get a run in off the bench this weekend.

Key Factors to Consider

    • When the two nations last faced off back in 2013, Belgium landed themselves a 2-1 victory on foreign soil.
    • However, settling for a 1-1 draw against Greece in midweek, The Red Devils have recorded just a single clean sheet in their last five straight contests.
    • Likewise, Belgium have seen nine of their last 11 contests finish with both teams finding the net.
    • Croatia have managed to win just a pair of their last eight matchups across all formats.
    • Including back-to-back defeats on foreign soil, The Blazers have recorded just a single win in their last eight contests on the road.

    Conclusion

    With both Belgium and Croatia having to settle for respective 1-1 draws against Greece and Armenia earlier in the week, they really failed to land some much-needed momentum. Although Roberto Martinez’s men should be smelling a golden chance to cash in on a Croatia side that have really failed to build off of their success out in Russia three years ago, the one-time Wigan boss will have a growing headache over his side’s inability to keep the ball out of their own net heading into the summer. In a battle between two sides who have shown their own extended issues at the back, we’re backing both teams to find the net in what could be a lively affair on Sunday night.

    Verdict: Both teams to score

    Best Odds: 7/10

    Bookmaker: Unibet

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Tom Dunstan


    Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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