14th of June 2018 Author: Johnny Karp
Croatia and Nigeria clash on Saturday evening in Kaliningrad in a match that could, at least in theory, decide which of the two teams qualifies alongside Argentina from World Cup Group D. However, with Iceland in the same group, surprises could very well happen. The two nations have never met before in an international match. Croatia are playing at their fifth World Cup final tournament, but they only started to compete as an independent national team in 1995, while Nigeria have played in five of the last six final tournaments.
Croatia had a great time at their first ever World Cup in 1998, they finished third in that tournament. However, they qualified for three of the following four World Cups but never managed to get past the group stage again. This time they finished second behind Iceland in their qualification group and defeated Greece 4-1 on aggregate in the playoffs to get their ticket for the final tournament. They have won two and lost two of their four warm-up friendly matches after the qualification campaign, so there should't be too much confidence in their camp at the start of the tournament.
Nigeria have managed to qualify from the group stage three times during their five final tournaments, and they will be hoping to do that again even though they have lost four of their last five warm-up friendly matches. This year's Africa Nations Cup ended with a disappointment for them as well as they lost 4-0 to a rampant Morocco in the final. However, qualifying for the World Cup has been fairly easy for Nigeria as they ended their third-stage group with four wins and two draws out of six matches.
Croatia: Subasic - Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic - Rakitic, Brozovic - Kramaric, Modric, Perisic - Mandzukic
Nigeria: Uzoho - Shehu, Troost-Ekong, Omeruo, Idowu - Ndidi, Mikel - Moses, Etebo, Iwobi - Ighalo
My prediction: Croatia to win 1-0, Nigeria's results after the Africa Cup of Nations were just terrible and they might not have recovered from that.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Croatia win - 1.72
Draw - 3.70
Nigeria win - 5.75
26th of June 2018
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Croatia has been one of the most consistent teams from the Eastern European countries ever since their debut at the World Cups 20 years back so they are a reliable option to place a bet on.
Nigeria would be a completely unpredictable team for me and I think they also proved that over the years so this it's another one tough for guessing and I'm still not figured it out what my prediction would be.
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