Croatia look to bounce back from their surprise defeat to Norway in the last round of fixtures when they host Bulgaria on Saturday night in Zagreb. With a galaxy of stars in their squad Croatia have left themselves in a precarious position of possibly having to negotiate the playoffs unless they can win both of their remaining games and hope that Norway either draw or lose one of their last two. Given the fixtures this is a distinct possibility as Norway visit Italy on the last game day. But Croatia must first take care of their own end of th bargain starting with a win against Bulgaria. With Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric, Barcelona center mid Rakitic and Juventus striker Mandzukich there is loads of talent in this side and experience to go with it as well. Croatia are one of those teams that on their day they are as good as anyone in the world.
Bulgaria are really going through a rebuilding phase and losing their talisman and best player Dimitar Berbatov a couple of years back really left a massive void that they have been unable to fill as of yet. Popov will be their key player but his influence will be determined by how much ball Bulgaria can hold onto. Defensively they will be well coached and they will not be easy to break down, they contained both Norway and Italy well only to succumb to a solitary goal loss and the reverse fixture Croatia struggled to break them down too, coming away with a 1-0 win in the end.
Another game here that is hard to really get a good read on. Bulgaria have to win here to keep any hopes they have of qualifying alive but they face a Croatia team that to me look far too strong for them on paper. I am going to take the overs here as even though Bulgaria have not conceded much in this qualifying campaign I think their need to go out and get a win here will lead to a more open game that Croatia will exploit.