Croatia and Greece go head-to-head for their World Cup play-off first leg in Zagreb on Thursday night. Who will claim the bragging rights? This article contains our Croatia vs Greece betting preview including predictions, betting tips, starting lineups, team news, odds, bookie promotions and no deposit free bets on the World Cup play-offs!
CROATIA vs GREECE BETTING PREVIEW
After a loss to Turkey and 1-1 draw at home to Finland on the penultimate match-day proved very costly for Croatia, who immediately sacked coach Ante Cacic and although his replacement Zlatko Dalic. The change clearly produced good results as Vatreni defeated Ukraine 2-0 on the road in their last crucial WC qualifier. The Croats finished with a really strong 6-2-2 record, scoring 15 goals in the process, against just 4 conceded. They have a proud home record and were unbeaten on their own turf throughout the group stages. Their last defeat at home came in October 2013 (lost 2-1 to Belgium).
Matej Mitrovic and Domagoj Vida are in competition for a places at the heart of the defence, alongside Dejan Lovren. Up front, Mario Mandzukic and Nikola Kalinic are vying to lead the line, while Andrej Kramaric may earn a starting berth behind the striker with Inter Milan duo Marcelo Brozovic and Ivan Perisic. In the middle of the park Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic appear sure starters. The likes of Mateo Kovacic, Vedran Corluka and Milan Badelj all miss out through injury.
Greece finished runner-up 9 points behind leaders Belgium in their qualifying group, beating Bosnia to that spot by two points and losing just once in the entire campaign. They were the only team to cut points against the Belgian side (1-1 on the road despite being reduced to nine men). The Greek side remained undefeated on their travels (3-2-0), also holding Bosnia & Herzegovina to draw, and defeating Cyprus, Estonia and Gibraltar. Greece won the play-offs in 2010 and 2014 editions by beating Ukraine and Romania respectively, edging out away draws in the first leg in both cases.
Manager Michael Skibbe has most of the core players fit and available for selection. Compared to October qualifiers, the likes of Petros Mantalos, Manolis Siopis and Tasos Donis have been left out. Roma defender Kostas Manolas is suspended for the first leg, which means Kyriakos Papadopoulos will start as centre back. Kostas Mitroglou is expected to spearhead the attack despite he made just four starts for Marseille this season, with Kostantinos Fortounis tucked behind him in a 4-4-1-1 system. Stuttgart forward Tasos Donis and AEK Athens midfielder Petros Mantolas are both out injured.
CROATIA vs GREECE PROBABLE LINEUPS
Croatia (4-2-3-1): Subasic – Vrsaljko, Vida, Lovren, Strinic – Rakitic, Modric – Kramaric, Brozovic, Perisic – Mandzukic.
Greece (4-4-1-1): Karnezis – Torosidis, Manolas, Papastathopoulos, Tsavellas – Samaris, Tziolis, Stafylidis, Zeca - Fortounis – Mitroglou.
CROATIA vs GREECE ODDS
|Bet £10, win £14.40
|Bet £10, win £45.00
|Bet £10, win £130.00
CROATIA vs GREECE PREDICTIONS
|Croatia to win by one
|1-0 Correct Score
|Tachtsidis to be shown a card
|Under 2.5 goals