Nigeria vs. Croatia
|Date & Time||Saturday June 16, 2018, 2:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Croatia -104 / Draw +244 / Nigeria +345 -- Over/Under: 2.5
We have some World Cup Group D action on Saturday as Croatia takes on Nigeria from Kaliningrad Stadium.
Croatia comes into Russia 2018 hoping to improve on a less than stellar showing in 2014, where the Croatians were eliminated in the group stage, finishing 1-0-2 with a win over Cameroon and losses to Brazil and Mexico. Croatia punched their ticket to this year’s World Cup by finishing 2nd in Group I in UEFA qualifying, two points behind group winners Iceland. Croatia then advanced to the UEFA play-off, taking down Greece 4-1 on aggregate to book their spot in the tournament. Monaco’s Daniel Subasic is expected to get the nod between the sticks, while Croatia’s midfield is anchored by key pieces like Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic and team captain, Real Madrid’s Luka Madrid. Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic will be tasked to handle the bulk of the scoring for Croatia in the tourney.
Nigeria on the other hand, had an easier time punching their ticket to the group stages of the World Cup, finishing atop Group B in CAF qualifying, with a 4-1-1 record above Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria. The Super Eagles will be looking to get past the round of 16 for the first time in their 6th tournament appearance, and will need the likes of Brighton defender Leon Balogun, Chelsea midfielder Victor Moses, captain John Obi Mikel, Leicester striker Kelechi Iheanacho and Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi to further themselves in the tournament.
These two sides have never gone head-to-head.
This should be an intriguing affair, as you have Croatia who tend to play more passive, against the Nigerians who like to try to beat their opposition with pace. The concern for me is that Nigeria haven’t had any luck lately, going winless in their last 5 friendly matches. On the other hand, Croatia haven’t been the most consistent side either, and to me, this matchup has draw written all over it so that’s where I’m going to go as I see both sides cancelling each other out at full time.