It isn’t just any old friendly: this is two of the most exciting international teams who failed to meet in the World Cup finally going head to head.
Many think this game is more important to Portugal, with their disappointing World Cup leaving them with a lot to prove. Sadly for them, it was all downhill after their 3-3 thriller against Spain, which despite the draw, saw them playing at their best. The rest of their group stage was mediocre and they eventually found themselves outmatched by Uruguay in a 2-1 battle to crash out of the tournament.
Croatia’s World Cup, however, was the stuff of legend. The scrappy set of underdogs fought all the way to the final of football’s biggest stage, before finally losing in a 4-2 heartbreaker against France.
These are two teams both eager to prove they still deserve to be considered among the best.
Portugal vs Croatia Prediction: Portugal 2-1 Croatia
It may seem a surprise that Croatia are the slight underdogs in this contest, considering their recent success. However, Portugal will have so much more to prove here, as a win against the World Cup finalists would quash many of their doubts heading forward as a team.
The only thing that could really let Portugal down is their inconsistency. However, assuming Portugal brings the fight, these two are very evenly matched and that extra motivation should be enough to take Portugal to victory. And considering these two have rarely gone 0-0 as of late and the fact that we think a victory will be slight, we’d go with a 2-1 result for the home side.
Our recommended tip: Portugal Win
Despite Croatia putting in an incredible performance at the 2018 World Cup, the bookmakers still give the slightest of advantages to Portugal. Their passionate on-pitch performances and selection of exceptional strikers may give them the edge in this FA International Friendly contest. Bookmaker BetVictor are advertising competitive 6/4 odds on a Portugal match result, compared to 15/8 for a Croatia win. Therefore, those wanting to play safe with their money would be wise to opt for the low risk wager and back the favourites to victory.
Another reason Portugal are the favourites in this contest – or at least something that gives them plenty of momentum – is their head-to-head history with Croatia, who have never beaten Portugal on any stage. They’ve had four meetings so far, with a 1-0 win in 2016 being the last time these two saw each other from across the pitch.
However fast football can change, an undefeated streak against an opponent is always a massive physiological advantage at the very least.
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Players to watch: Andre Silva & Luka Modric
The star of the Portugal squad, Cristiano Ronaldo won’t be playing in Thursday’s International Friendly, reportedly resting from international play. Therefore, fans will be looking to the likes of Andre Silva to take on the forward duties. The youthful 22 year old impressed on football’s grandest stage this year and racked up goal after goal in the World Cup qualification matches. If he brings his A-game, he could prove a serious hurdle for Croatia to overcome.
There’s no denying it, Luka Modric is absolute dynamite on the pitch. The midfielder never fails to captivate with his incredible talents and was rewarded with the Golden Ball trophy in Russia for best player of the 2018 World Cup after leading his team to the final. He is a true gem for his international team, being named the Croatian Footballer of the Year no less than six times and even besting Ronaldo to take last season’s Champion’s League Best Player title.