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Croatia – Group D – Overview and Croatia betting tips

Croatia have established themselves as a top quality international side over recent years and will be hoping the FIFA World Cup in Russia provides a final platform for many major players to make an impact.

For many of the current squad, such as Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic, a shot at glory this summer could be their final chance for the national team on the biggest stage of them all. Whilst winning the tournament might be a long shot, Croatia do boast a strong side although they’ll have to go some to beat their best ever finish of third, which came back in France ’98.

The first task will be to navigate their way out of a tricky group that contains Nigeria, Iceland and a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina. Here at Open Odds we will look in-depth at the World Cup 2018 team Croatia have, as well as providing you with the best Croatia betting odds and tips for the tournament.

Croatia prediction: How well will they do?

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Croatia are one of the many so-called ‘dark horses’ at the 2018 World Cup

It’s always tough to say how Croatia will do as often off-the-field politics plays a part and unfortunately that’s the case again with a lot of controversy surrounding captain Modric and the fans. Some may feel this shouldn’t impact the players but it does – you only have to look at Croatia back in Euro 2016 when the fans disrupted a game against the Czech Republic. However, if we look in terms of the squad, Croatia are very, very good and potential dark horses.

Their midfield is the standout part of the team, with Modric, Rakitic, Brozovic and Perisic all quality options to choose from. It should mean, even against Argentina, Croatia can control the game from the middle. In the final third, the likes of Mandzukic, AC Milan’s Nikola Kalinic and Andrej Kramaric can score goals and Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren will organise the defence.

They have a nice balance to the team and if everyone is pulling in the same direction they should certainly progress from this group. We wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Croatia toppling Argentina when they meet and potentially winning the group, however the safer bet would be to back Croatia to finish second. That can be taken at 6/4 with Sky Bet and has a strong chance.

Looking further ahead, a second place finish in Group D means you play the winner of Group C in the last 16. Whilst you can never predict anything for certain in football, France are expected to finish first in that group, meaning they would face Croatia in the first knockout round. That would appear a bridge too far for Croatia so taking them at 6/4 to get eliminated in the last 16 with Bet Victor seems another safe bet. Of course, you would still have a chance of that winning even if they did top the group, although they would face an easier game than France. The draw hasn’t done Croatia any favours in that sense and despite the undoubted quality that they have in the team we can’t back them to go any further than that.

Croatia to finish second in Group D – 6/4 SkyBet
Croatia to be eliminated in the last 16 – 6/4 Bet Victor

Best Odds Available at SkyBet

Journey to the World Cup — Who did Croatia beat to qualify?

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Croatia beat Greece to make it through the World Cup qualifiers

Qualifying for Russia was anything but straightforward for Croatia who have had to overcome many big obstacles already just to be a World Cup 2018 participant. In fairness, they were handed a very tough group with Iceland, Ukraine and Turkey among the six sides in it which is challenging, particularly as far as UEFA qualifying goes. With Iceland finishing first, Croatia went to the final game at Ukraine knowing they needed a win in Kyiv just to finish second.

It came off the back of a surprising 1-1 draw with Finland and they made the bold decision to sack coach Ante Cacic just days before that crucial clash in Ukraine. Zlatko Dalic came in and the side recorded a hugely impressive 2-0 win that meant they finished second and secured a play-off place. They were then handed a tie against Greece for a place in Russia and made easy work of it. A 4-1 win in Zagreb and a 0-0 draw away from home meant they qualified for the tournament which at one stage had looked unlikely.

Best players for Croatia: Who should you be betting on?

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Croatia’s squad is packed full of quality players

We’ve already covered the quality in Croatia’s midfield and that is where they can win games. The calibre of players they have is evident by the clubs they play for with two Real Madrid players, a Barcelona player and two Inter Milan options. It will be down to the manager to get the right formula but he certainly has the options.

As for any individual bets, Mandzukic is favourite with the bookmakers to be top scorer for Croatia and it’s easy to see why given his pedigree. However, at 2/1 he doesn’t really represent great value and we would advise looking elsewhere instead of the experienced forward who may be forced out wide. Other options that appeal are Ivan Perisic, who will always get in goalscoring positions and is a decent shot at 3/1 with Bet Victor.

Another option is Kramaric, who scored both the goals in the Ukraine as well as scoring once against Greece. Such form will be remembered when kick-off comes around in Russia and at 6/1 to be top scorer for Croatia it looks fine value for the player who could well be their number nine. Andrej Kramaric top scorer at 6/1 – BetVictor

Best Odds Available at BetVictor

Who manages Croatia?

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Can Zlatko Dalic turn Croatia into world beaters?

As mentioned, Croatia were in turmoil towards the end of their qualifying campaign, with Caric sacked as manager. Zlatko Dalic came in and has done everything that could have been asked of him since and is clearly respected by the players in the dressing room.

He has had an unusual coaching path to get this role, working in his native country before spells with Al Hilal and Al-Ain most recently. However, he has proven his quality at that level and more importantly for Croatia when they needed it most in the past year.

Why bet on Croatia?

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Expect plenty of surprises from Croatia this summer

Ultimately, Croatia are a supremely talented squad however they haven’t been dealt the best hand with the draw and that could cost them. They’re going to have to overcome Argentina to avoid France in the next round which is a big ask. Alternatively, they’ll have to beat the French in the last 16 which is another tall order.

They have the quality to be competitive and getting out the group shouldn’t be an issue even though it is very tough but it could be a short stay for Croatia in Russia despite the quality they have.

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