Sunday, October 21, 2018

Prediction: Croatia vs Senegal

Verdict: Croatia/Croatia

Best Odds: 15/8

Bookmaker: William Hill

Buoyed by the promising performance against one of the main contenders for the 2018 World Cup title, Croatia play host to Senegal in their final warm-up game. The Lions of Teranga have not been too impressive in recent friendlies but the return of star player Sadio Mane will be a welcoming boost.

Croatia

It is fair to say that Croatia haven’t reached their full potential in recent years, having largely struggled since reaching the quarter-finals at the Euro 2008 and there are no doubts they will see the 2018 World Cup as an opportunity to make things right. A team that have players like Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic pulling the strings should definitely perform better at major tournaments and that is precisely what they will be looking to do in Russia.

Even though they experienced some problems in the qualifying stages, but they eventually managed to book a ticket to Russia thanks to a 4-1 aggregate win over Greece in the play-offs. Vatreni have since lost to Peru and Brazil, while defeating Mexico, but it is important to note that Zlatko Dalic’s side matched star-studded Selecao for large periods of the match at Anfield and they are definitely in a good position to defeat Senegal in a match that will serve as a very good test for the opening game against Nigeria.

Team News

Matej Mitrovic, Marko Rog and Mario Pasalic have all failed to make the final cut, but Mario Mandzukic should be fit after recovering from a knee problem.

Senegal

Senegal first made it to the World Cup finals in 2002, some 32 years after first attempting to reach the biggest stage, but boy did they make an impact. The Lions of Teranga first pipped Uruguay and France to a place in the knockout stages, before defeating Sweden and narrowly losing to Turkey in the last 8. Unfortunately, that proved a one-off result as Senegal have since been unable to reach the World Cup finals, that is until the tournament in Russia.

Senegal did not have the best of starts to the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, sharing spoils with Burkina Faso both home and away after the opening win over Cape Verde, but they then showed massive improvement to win the final three fixtures against Cape Verde and South Africa, thus qualifying for the tournament in Russia. The current squad is brimming with high-profile footballers such as Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly, Balde Keita and Cheikhou Kouyate, but Momo Diame decided to retire from international duty back in March.

Team News

Papy Djilobodji, Armand Traore, Henri Saivet and Oumar Niasse have all been dropped from the provisional squad.

Key Factors to Consider

  • The two sides are meeting for the first time
  • Croatia scored just once in last four matches
  • However, they are unbeaten in last 18 at home (W15 D3)
  • Senegal shared spoils in their last three fixtures
  • Their last two matches ended goalless

Conclusion

Brimming with confidence after a very good showing against star-studded Brazil, Croatia can be trusted to win their final warm-up game, especially given that Senegal have been struggling for form of late despite facing relatively weak opposition.

Verdict: Croatia/Croatia

Best Odds: 15/8

Bookmaker: William Hill

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