Croatia face off against Wales on Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 3:00pm local time. It’s a pivotal European Championship qualifier, where both sides will strongly fancy their chances of progression.

Home Team: Croatia

Croatia surpassed all expectations at the 2018 World Cup by getting to the final. It ended in disappointment, and had every right to feel aggrieved losing it 4-2, but the team made their country proud. Since that final, they have struggled though, as they have only won two matches since, and both of those games have come at home. They were bottom of their UEFA Nations group containing England and Spain, and have started their European Championship qualifying stage with a defeat already, having lost to the unfancied Hungary. They did manage to beat Azerbaijan narrowly, but it’s shaping up to be an open group with many of the teams taking points off each other. In terms of quality, Croatia boast the best squad with Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric at the heart of their midfield, and Dejan Lovren at the back. They’ve all had individually under par seasons, but can they produce a couple of huge wins to finish the season on a positive note?

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Away Team: Wales

Wales will hope they can rewind the clock back to four years ago when they went on an unforgettable journey to the semi-finals of the European Championships. They missed out on the World Cup last summer, but will hope to qualify for this tournament again and hope to light up the competition as they did. Manager Ryan Giggs has had a fairly decent impact since joining, playing free-flowing attacking football that saw them beat Ireland convincingly home and away in the Nations League which they finished 2nd in. In their start to the European Championship qualifiers, they have only played one game, but it was a great result as they beat Slovakia at home 1-0. Croatia are the toughest team on paper, so any result here would be a huge boost to their progression hopes. Gareth Bale has had a season to forget at Real Madrid, but he’ll hope he can rediscover his best form for his country in this vital encounter.

Head to Head

The sides have only met four times in their history, with Wales yet to win a game. The first two matches they played were both friendlies, one in 2002, and again in 2010. The one in 2002 was the only time Wales avoided defeat with a 1-1 draw. Croatia won the 2nd friendly 2-0 in 2010, and then the sides were drawn together in the World Cup qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Croatia won both matches, with their home match being another 2-0 success, and then when they faced each other again in Wales, they edged the game in a 2-1 victory.

Predictions and Betting Tips

Croatia are strong favourites to win at 3/5, with Wales backed at 5/1. For the sides to share the spoils, that is at 13/5. Croatia haven’t been in the best of form away from home, but are still a force on their own patch, so I’d back them to get a narrow 2-1 victory here, priced at 8/1.

With there being three goal scorers, it would be a great opportunity to back a goal scoring treble – Ivan Perisic, Gareth Bale and Andrej Kramaric all to score at 33/1. There could be more goals here, so backing there to be more than 3.5 goals at 3/1 should be considered. For more value on backing the hosts, you can back them score in both halves at 7/4 or to score 3+ goals at 11/4.

Finally, if you have a gut feeling Wales can get a result, back them to win in a draw no bet at 7/2, or to win by a 1 goal margin at 7/1.

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