The Group D clash, which kicks off at 8.00pm, is key in Group D
Croatia and Nigeria both come into this FIFA World Cup with high hopes of going further than the first phase. This Group D clash, which takes place this Saturday (16 June) could well be key for either wanting to lay down a marker of intent for the rest of the tournament.
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The pair of teams have been drawn in a group alongside Argentina and Iceland. With the South Americans the favourites to top the group and head into the round of 16 and Iceland playing at their very first World Cup, it could become a straight shoot out between Croatia and Nigeria for second place.
Croatia are priced at just 1.50 to make it through to the knock-out phase and are at 3.25 to win the group. Nigeria are slightly behind in the odds, priced at 3.50 to clear this first hurdle and are at a long 11.00 to finish top of Group D, according to Oddsshark.
Croatia boast some world class talents amongst their ranks and will be confident of coming away from their World Cup opener with three points. The likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Ratikic in the midfield certainly give them an advantage, and it is the European side who come into this game as the favourites.
Looking at the most basic bet you can make on the outcome of the game it is Croatia who have the advantage. They are priced at just 1.72 to win this game, whilst Nigeria are further out at 5.50.
However, Croatia’s recent form has not exactly been convincing. They have won two and lost two of their last four outings, and have only managed to keep one clean sheet in that time.
That means there could be goals in this one. There could well be over 2.5 goals in this one which you can back at a price of 2.15 – that means you would double your investment. Under 2.5 goals in the game is priced shorter at 1.66.
But with two less than solid defences both sides will also be confident of hitting the back of the net. Think both teams will score in this one? Then back that hunch at 2.05, giving you another chance to double any investments. “No” to both sides scoring is at the shorter price of 1.70.
Where Croatia do have an advantage is their recent record against sides outside of Europe and South America. They have won eight of their last 10 games against teams outside of those two confederations, and while it is always tricky trying to predict the exact score of a game, backing Croatia to win this game 2-1 at a price of 9.50 would look to be a risk worth taking.
Croatia’s best ever finish at the World Cup was a third placed finish in 1998.To reach the semi-finals this time around Croatia are priced at just 7.00, and with their world class midfield it is not off the cards.
Nigeria, meanwhile, were the first African side to qualify for the World Cup following a 1-0 win over Zambia back in October. They overcame both Algeria and Cameroon to reach the tournament, and are one of the strongest sides from the continent in Russia this summer.
However, the Super Eagles come into this game on a poor run of form, having failed to win any of their last four games, losing three of them. That means they well need to settle for a point in their World Cup, with a stalemate priced at 3.75. Looking at a more specific result a score draw is priced at 5.50, while if you think this encounter will end goalless then you can back that option at 8.50.
Nigeria’s biggest goal threat looks to be Kelechi Iheanacho. The Leicester forward is priced at 4.00 to score during the game and is at 9.00 to score either first or last. But Croatian forward, fed by Modric and Ratikic, is at the much shorter price of 5.50 to get the first or last goal, and is at just 2.60 to score at any time.
Odds: Croatia (1.72), Nigeria (5.50), draw (3.75)
2018 FIFA WORLD CUP FIRST ROUND GROUP GAMES
Thursday, 14 June
4.00pm – (1.45) Russia 5 x 0 Saudi Arabia (9.12)
Friday, 15 June
1.00pm – (7.50) Egypt 0 x 1 Uruguay (1.57)
4.00pm – (2.25) Morocco 0 x 1 Iran (3.90)
7.00pm – (4.20) Portugal 3 x 3 Spain (2.05)
Saturday, 16 June
11.00am – (1.25) France x Australia (12.00)
2.00pm – (1.33) Argentina x Iceland (12.00)
5.00pm – (3.30) Peru x Denmark (2.40)
8.00pm – (1.72) Croatia x Nigeria (5.75)
Sunday, 17 June
1.00pm – (5.00) Costa Rica x Serbia (1.90)
4.00pm – (1.50) Germany x Mexico (7.50)
7.00pm – (1.40) Brazil (1.40) x Switzerland (9.50)
Monday, 18 June
1.00pm – (2.05) Sweden x South Korea (4.33)
4.00pm – (1.18) Belgium x Panama (21.00)
7.00pm – (9.00) Tunisia x England (1.44)
Tuesday, 19 June
1.00pm – (1.72) Colombia x Japan (6.00)
4.00pm – (2.40) Poland x Senegal (3.30)