WorldCupAcca To Be Confirmed Squad:
Keepers: D. Subasic, L. Kalinic, D. Livakovic
Defence: V. Corluka, D. Vida, I. Strinic, D. Lovren, S. Vrsaljko, J. Pivaric, T. Jedvaj, M. Mitrovic, B. Barisic, D. Caleta-Car
Midfield: L. Modric, K. Kovacic, I. Rakitic, M. Badelj, M. Brozovic, F. Bradaric
Forward: M. Mandzukic, I. Perisic, N. Kalinic, A. Kramaric, M. Pjaca, A.Rebic
A team regularly touted as dark horses in major tournaments Croatia will be playing in their 5th World Cup in Russia. Until ‘98 they featured in previous tournaments as part of Yugoslavia when they were one of the best sides around often finishing in the top 4 at European Championships and being regular quarter finalists in the World Cup as well as a third-place finish in the inaugural competition and a fourth-placed finish in ‘62.
Croatia were officially recognised by FIFA and UEFA in 1993, though it was too late to enter the ‘94 World Cup they qualified 4 years later. Led by Davor Suker with 6 goals they managed to finish 3d having narrowly lost out to the hosts and eventual winners France.
Since that though they haven’t really managed to live up to the hype, going out in the group stages in 2002, 2006 and 2014 whilst failing to qualify in 2010, a round of 16 tie should be the minimum expectation this time round.
They were expected to win their qualifying group despite it featuring some big teams such as Ukraine and Turkey as well as Euro 2016 history makers Iceland. Iceland themselves managed to keep up they’re recent form and ultimately won Group I securing automatic qualification, finishing 2 points ahead of the Croats who had to wait until the last game when they managed a 2-0 win away to Ukraine.
This led Croatia to a playoff berth where they comfortably dispatched Greece with a 4-1 win in Zagreb and a bore draw in Piraeus.
Croatia have only played in 2 friendlies since May of last year, losing 2-0 to Peru and beating Mexico 1-0 – so it’s difficult to really tell where they are at this moment in time, though they will be facing Brazil and Senegal before the tournament starts.
WorldCupAcca The Squad:
Monaco’s Danijel Subasic will start in goal for Croatia, the defence is probably where the teams weaknesses lie. Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida and Sime Vrsaljko are all error-prone, and 32-year-old Vedran Corluka has only recently recovered from a serious knee injury.
The first 3 players mentioned there are likely to be starting along with Ivan Strinic, who recently joined AC Milan from Sampdoria, at left back – though there is also Tin Jedvaj of Leverkusen who looks a very talented player and can play both centrally and on the right.
Croatia have one of the best midfields at the tournament, Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic, Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic and Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic are all fantastic players though Kovacic & Brozovic will likely have to settle for a place on the bench.
Ivan Rakitic should start centrally with Milan Badelj of Fiorentina, allowing Luka Modric some more freedom further up the pitch as their whole game will run through that little magician. Ivan Perisic is nailed on to start on the left hand side and I’d expect Andrej Kramaric to get the nod ahead of Marko Pjaca on the right, the Hoffenheim man while generally a forward has shown his versatility before for the national team and was a key player in Hoffenheim’s season, helping them finish 4th in the Bundesliga.
Add Mario Mandzukic up front who has proven himself to be a real handful for many top European teams at club level during his spells with Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid & Juventus.
WorldCupAcca The Group:
While I don’t see them as genuine contenders this year, Argentina they will most likely still win this win Group D, though it may not be plain sailing. The obvious strength for them is the attacking talents they have in abundance but the other areas of the squad really let them down though, there will also be question marks over their mentality coming into the tournament as well, having lost 3 major finals on the spin.
Nigeria are an interesting proposition as well, comfortably winning their qualifying group which also featured Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria – the only game they “lost” was for fielding an ineligible player away to Algeria, the match actually finished 1-1 but Algeria were later awarded a 3-0 victory.
They also beat Argentina 4-2 in a recent friendly and made a very good showing in the second half of their match against England at Wembley in their most recent friendly, while they look a little suspect at the back they can cause problems going forward.
World Cup debutants Iceland make up the group and will be hoping to show a similar showing to their fantastic display 2 years ago at Euro 2016. They won what was on paper a very tight qualifying group with the likes of Turkey, Ukraine and even Croatia themselves to make the tournament this time round.
It’s very unlikely they will be able to make it out of this group but here’s to hoping for some more Viking Thunder Claps.
WorldCupAcca Betting Tips:
World Cup Group D Fixtures / Results
|Spartak Stadium, Spartak Stadium – June 16, 2018 4:00 pm|
|Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad – June 16, 2018 9:00 pm|
|Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod – June 21, 2018 9:00 pm|
|Volgograd Stadium, Volgograd – June 22, 2018 6:00 pm|
|Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg – June 26, 2018 9:00 pm|
|Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don – June 26, 2018 9:00 pm|
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