Boasting a slew of world-class players in midfield and attack, Croatia looks to be a very intriguing side both on the pitch and at the betting window at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Players like Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, Mario Mandžukić and Ivan Perišić will look to improve on a Euro 2016 showing that started so promising and ended in disappointment.
While it’s been a tumultuous year in Croatian football (when is it not), Vatreni looks to be one of the better sides on paper heading to Russia and some of the World Cup betting odds certainly reflect that.
Perhaps you remember the Davor Šuker-inspired run to bronze at the 1998 World Cup or their quarterfinals result at Euro 2008, but if you’re familiar with the side, you know they are capable of playing some of the prettiest football at any given tournament, but equally as capable of letting you down in betting spots.
The talent is in place for Croatia but the window is slowly closing on this generation of superstars. This could be the last time some of the aforementioned players get a shot at major international silverware so the side will look to impress in Russia with no shortage of great betting opportunity.
Croatia’s odds to win World Cup: +3300
Let me just start by saying that in the group stage of Euro 2016 in France, Croatia was one of the best teams – if not the best – of the tournament. They finished with two wins and one draw and were playing some of the most eye-catching football of the tournament.
Then it all came crashing down around them in their 1-0 loss to Portugal in the Round of 16 but for a time, we saw what this team is capable of on the pitch.
Many of those players are back in the side for the 2018 World Cup and the hunger to improve is there.
Online shop Bovada is offering Croatia at +3300 to win the World Cup, equal odds with Uruguay and just in front of Colombia and Russia, who sit at +4000. For a side with players that feature heavily for Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Inter, it looks pretty good.
Croatia has obviously never won a World Cup and the last time we saw them in this tournament, they failed to get out of a tough group stage that featured hosts Brazil and Mexico. Their one win (4-0 over Cameroon) left them well short of surviving the group.
If you’re looking for value, however, it’s there. If the Croatians kept up their style of play in that Euro 2016 match against Portugal, we would have been looking at a much different tournament two years ago.
The side is good. The midfielders are world-class. It wouldn’t be a poor play to get a futures wager and watch this team match in, match out.
Get your futures ticket in, get that handsome home kit and buckle up for a wild ride.
Croatia’s Odds to Win Group D: +225
There has been no discernible “Group of Death” in this year’s World Cup, but I’d bill Croatia’s Group D and the competitive Group H (Colombia, Poland, Senegal, Japan) as the closest things to it.
Bovada is offering Croatia at +225 to win this group and to be honest, it’s damn good value even though they’ll be competing with favorites Argentina (-180), Nigeria (+1000) and everyone’s favorites, Iceland (+1200).
Lionel Messi basically single-handedly grabbed Argentina by the scruff of the neck and dragged them into the World Cup. Iceland were the darlings of Euro 2016 and qualified ahead of Croatia in UEFA qualifying in Group I (more on that later) and Nigeria looks to be absolutely RAPID and could record an upset or two in this group.
If the Argies get their act together, they deserve to be offered at that price. But Croatia at that price is worth a punt. History is not on your side, however, as that celebrated 1998 side was the last to get out of a group.
Croatia’s Best World Cup Bets
As it stands at the time of publication, there is great betting value in each of Croatia’s group stage matches and that’s what we’ll focus on here.
Croatia is a +345 underdog in moneyline markets against Argentina on June 21 and a -130 fave for their third and final fixture against Iceland on June 26. The best value of all comes in their opener against Nigeria on June 16.
Bovada is currently offering Croatia at -120 with Nigeria coming back at +350 while the draw sits at +235. This is GREAT betting value for the team that is currently sitting at 10th in odds to win the World Cup.
Nigeria has pace to burn and players that play at the highest level of domestic football, but Croatia’s experience and quality should see them through.
This price looks too good to be true so I’d get all over this before the value evaporates.
Croatia’s Player to Watch: Ivan Perisic
There is no doubt that Luka Modrić is the best player in the side, but Inter’s tricky winger is the one that bettors should be locked into throughout their World Cup run.
Perišić chipped in with two goals at Euro 2016 and had a pair in Croatia’s World Cup qualifying campaign, including the third against Greece in the first leg of their playoff.
Domestically, Perišić is one of Inter’s most important players as he’s second on the team in goals (11) and leads the team in assists (nine) entering the final fixture of the Serie A campaign.
He’ll feature in the starting XI game in, game out and will be a very good wager in anytime goalscorer markets.
Croatia’s Road to Russia
A bizarre one.
Everything was fine and dandy early on in Group I qualifiers. Croatia grabbed 16 points in their first seven matches and were leading the group. Losses to Iceland and, later, Turkey and a draw with Finland saw them in a bit of a bind.
Ante Čačić was canned as manager and Zlatko Dalić came in as his replacement and recorded a big victory over Ukraine and then they dismantled Greece in the playoff, winning 4-1 over two legs.
It wouldn’t be Croatian football if there wasn’t a little bit of controversy but the side escaped a tough group to get here and now, they face a tough group in Russia.
If anything, getting on board with Croatia will make things entertaining this summer at the World Cup.
|1||Dominik Livaković||GK||Dinamo Zagreb||1|
|5||Vedran Ćorluka||DEF||Lokomotiv Moscow||99|
|2||Šime Vrsaljko||DEF||Atlético Madrid||35|
|22||Josip Pivarić||DEF||Dynamo Kyiv||19|
|13||Tin Jedvaj||DEF||Bayer Leverkusen||12|
|15||Duje Ćaleta-Car||DEF||Red Bull Salzburg||1|
|10||Luka Modrić||MID||Real Madrid||106|
|8||Mateo Kovačić||MID||Real Madrid||41|
|16||Nikola Kalinić||FWD||AC Milan||42|
|18||Ante Rebić||FWD||Eintracht Frankfurt||16|
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