Croatia vs Nigeria - Preview - World Cup 2018

Croatia vs Nigeria, Group D fixture between Croatia and Nigeria

Croatia and Nigeria are expected to provide a cracking contest with their attacking styles of play. Both teams are likely to go for maximum points in their pursuit of advancing to the knockout stages. And while goals win you games, Croatia and Nigeria will need to make sure their respective defences keep things tidy at the back.  

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FIFA World Cup 
Croatia vs Nigeria
Group D
Croatia vs Nigeria 
Kaliningrad Stadium 
Saturday 16 June 
21:00

To Win 
Croatia 13/20
Draw 51/20
Nigeria 17/4

Croatia 

Vatreni have plenty of talent in their team with the likes of Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Perisic. Croatia qualified for the World Cup after finishing second on the points table behind Iceland and manager Zlatko Dalic is hopeful that his side will raise their game in the 2018 showpiece. 

Croatia proved they are a tough team to break down in qualifying, conceding just four goals in 10 games with only Spain and England enjoying a superior record. They will be looking to maintain that solidity with the experienced centre-back pairing of Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren expected to marshal that backline.  

Mandzukic might be the main man leading the line but without the creativity of Modric and Rakitic, goals wouldn’t be so easy to come by. Perisic is also key as he brings speed and skill to the table and is perfect to utilize when his team is playing on the break.

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Nigeria’s route to the World Cup would by no means be described as easy, having faced Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia. They are the only African team to have played at both the 2014 World Cup as well as this tournament so this is certainly not a new experience for the men in green.  

The Super Eagles blazed through the qualifying round with four wins from six matches and manager, Gernot Rohr, will be hoping his team can carry that form over. Nigeria have some European pedigree among their ranks with Victor Moses, Wilfred Ndidi, John Obi Mikel, Alex Iwobi and Ahmed Musa all worth a mention. 

Mikel will be expected to break down play and boss the midfield, while Moses and Iwobi’s width and pace out wide should cause Croatia all kinds of problems. Musa’s aerial threat and tireless running should keep the Vatreni’s defence busy for 90 minutes. 

Probable line-ups:

Croatia: 4-2-3-1
Subasic; Corluka, Vida, Strinic, Vrsaljko; Rakitic, Brozovic; Mandzukic, Modric, Perisic; Kalinic.

Nigeria: 4-2-3-1
Akpeyi; Omeruo, Troost-Ekong, Balogun, Echiejile; Mikel, Onazi; Iwobi, Etebo, Moses; Iheanacho.

Prediction: Both Teams to Score (Yes) 23/20
As I mentioned above, both sides play an attacking brand of football, so I’m expecting an end-to-end contest. With that being said, I’m backing Both Teams to Score – Yes – at 23/20.

Written by Aaron Crowie

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