Croatia and Greece will square off in the World Cup 2018 qualification playoffs, with the first leg set to be played on Thursday in Zagreb.
Croatia was denied direct qualification by the amazing Iceland, which ended up finishing two points ahead of today`s hosts. Nevertheless, Croatia was able to finish second in the group ahead of Ukraine and Turkey, posting a 6-2-2 statline with 15 goals scored and only 4 conceded. It`s well worth noting that Croatia hasn`t lost a game at home in more than 4 years, since a 1-2 defeat to Belgium in October 2013!
Greece managed to recover after a horrific Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, and did very well to reach the playoffs from a group with Belgium and Bosnia. Even if the group wasn`t the toughest and Belgium finished 9 points ahead of Greece, today`s visitors did the best they could do, and finished second – mainly due to their excellent defense (only 6 goals conceded in 10 games).Bet on Croatia vs. Greece and claim your 100% (100 Euro) freebet at Ohmbet now!
Team news & lineups:
Croatia has Mandzukic questionable, while Badelj has been ruled out. The hosts also have to deal with a few long term injuries like Kovacic, Corluka and Jedvaj. Greece will miss Manolas, Donis and Mantolas.
Croatia: Subasic – Vrsaljko, Vida, Lovren, Pivaric – Brozovic, Rakitic – Kramaric, Modric, Perisic – Mandzukic
Greece: Karnezis – Torosidis, Sokratis, Papadopoulos, Tzavellas – Zeca, Tziolis, Samaris, Stafylidis – Fortounis – Mitroglou
This should be a hard fought and tense game if we think about how much is at stake, but also if we look at the DNA of the two teams.
In Croatia`s qualifying group matches there has been an average of 1.9 goals per game scored. For Greece the average was 2.3 goals per game. And it`s well worth noting that the goal scoring averages were artificially increased by matches against teams like Kosovo and Gibraltar.
Croatia and Greece allowed a combined total of just 10 goals in 20 matches in their qualifying groups, so expect both of them to focus on the defensive style of play which brought them success. Especially Greece is well known as an ultra cautious side and there`s no doubt that they will park the bus as well as they can in Zagreb.
While it`s true that both sides miss a few defensive players, I reckon the important thing is discipline and the style of play, rather than the individual players – and it`s not like there are game changing absences either.
My tip is under 2,5 goals to be scored. I think the odds on the bet are fairly good considering all the circumstances. Prediction: Croatia – Greece 1-0.