Croatia – World Cup 2014 – Betting
Manager: Niko Kovac
Captain: Darijo Srna
FIFA World Ranking: 16
World Cup Appearances: 4
Best World Cup: Third Place, 1998
Croatia Team Profile
The Croatians will be fancying their chances to make it through to the knockout stage. They have a tough opening match against Brazil to kick the World Cup off on June 12th, but with easy looking games to come against Mexico and Cameroon, the Europeans will be looking forward. They are a neat and tidy side, as well as being physically tough and commanding. Croatian sides have always been technically gifted and they qualified with some relative comfort from their UEFA group, without ever impressing. They battled toe to toe with the exciting Belgian side but couldn’t better them when it came to the group matches. Croatia finished second and went through to a play off against Iceland, which they won 2-0 on aggregate.
The rich golden era of Croatian football has been long gone, but they are still going to be difficult opposition to go up against on any given day. They lost only one away match during 2013, while they stumbled a few times on home soil. So that suggests that their more cohesive, conservative set up is going to suit them. They aren’t a particularly high scoring team, despite having some big forward talents in Nikita Jelavic, Mario Mandzukic, Eduardo and Ivica Olic. They are one of those solid European sides which you can look to in putting up stiff opposition, but at the same time they still raise questions about their ability to actually push forward and comprehensively win matches.
Niko Kovac is the head coach, a fairly young manager in international football, at just 42 years old. He is German born and what makes his appointment interesting is that he has never even managed at club level. He was assistant head coach at RedBull Salzburg for about a year, before he was picked up by Croatia, with which he gained 84 gaps in his playing days. He was handed the reins of the national side following the resignation of Igor Stimac in 2013. It was after Stimac had only scraped Croatia through the 2014 World Cup, that he got the sack and Kovac took over. Inexperienced, but it is hoped by the country that he will breath a bit of fresh air into things and actually bring out the inherent talent that is in the squad.
Croatia Key Players
You always look to the captain for influence and they have an immense one in the shape of Darijo Srna, who has racked up over 100 caps for his country. Still going strong, his presence at the heat of teh Croatian defence is going to be vitally important to their progress. They need his influence and control from the back to build from.
Going forward, Croatia have an abundance of forward talent, starting with Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic. He is a proven goalscorer and should be a big influence at the World Cup. With the goals from veteren Ivca Olic and Shakhtar Donetsk’s Eduardo, they aren’t short of players who can put the ball in the back of the net.
In the middle of the park, one of Real Madrid’s stand out performers of the 2013/14 season, Luka Modric, along wtih Niko Krancjar can really pull some creative strings. You put all these pieces of the puzzle together and Croatia have a very strong backbone of World Class players.
Balance is probably the big strength of Croatia. You look at any area of their game and there is a quality player there. From the defence to attack, they have everything that they require to be a force to be reckoned with. They are still searching to repeat the successes of the golden generation back in the late 90’s but they have the personnel to do so. It is just a matter of having the right man in charge at top to get the very best out of them.
Consistency may the issue with Croatia, that and the fact that they have a very inexperienced man in charge. Still, that fact aside, it is down to the responsibility of the players on the pitch at the end of the day and their vim and vigor doesn’t always live up to the technical qualities that they have. They can almost appear to be a bit distinterested, a bit lackadaisical at times, and that could hurt them. That is highlighted by the fact that that they only scored 12 goals during World Cup qualification. They have the potential to be a very good side.
Croatia Qualification for the World Cup
Position: 2nd in Group, Won Play-Off
Goals Scored: 12
Goals Conceded: 9
Croatia World Cup Betting Odds
Croatia to win the World Cup 150/1 at Bet365
Croatia World Cup 2014 Fixtures – Group A
|Th 12th June||21.00||Brazil v Croatia||3:1|
|Fr 13th June||17.00||Mexico v Cameroon||1:0|
|Tu 17th June||20.00||Brazil v Mexico||0:0|
|We 18th June||23.00||Cameroon v Croatia||0:4|
|Mo 23rd June||21.00||Cameroon v Brazil||1:4|
|Mo 23rd June||21.00||Croatia v Mexico||1:3|
World Cup 2014 Group A Table