Correct Score tips for Croatia vs Nigeria
For Croatia, to replicate their World Cup 1998's semi-final entry would be a tough ask, but when one has players of the caliber of Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan) and Daniel Subasic (Monaco), expectations can run high.
In a tough group D that also has runners-up Argentina and the unpredicatable Iceland and Nigeria, Croatia with the depth at their disposal are expected to make it through to the next stage (the top 2 teams of each proceed to the 2nd round).
But the Balkan nation's recent form isn't going to put fear into the hearts of the Nigerians whom they face on June the 16th. The last five international games saw Coatia succumb to 0-2 defeats to Brazil and Peru and held to a 1-1 draw by Greece.
Wins came narrowly – 2-1 and 1-0 against Senegal and Mexico respectively.
Nigeria likely to use speed in attack
The Nigerians haven't had a better run-up either to WC 2018, having gone winless in their last 5 friendly matches. Nigeria qualified for the Russia 2018 back in October,finishing ahead of Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria in their group.
The Super Eagles who are a familiar face internationally, having made it to six out of the last seven editions of the premier tournament, would feel confident going into Saturday evening's game given that Croatia have failed to get past the Group stage in the past five World Cups spanning 2002 to 2014.
The West Africans will use speed and strength to rattle the Croatians and in Victor Moses (Chelsea) and Alex Iwobi (Arsenal) they have the players to that end. The inexperienced defense could find some stability in Barcelona's Wilfred Ndidi while the experienced ex-Chelsea man John Obi Mikel will man the mid-field space. But the weak Nigerian back line is something Mario Mandzukic may ruthlessly exploit and one can expect the Juve striker to find the back of net.
Croatia vs Nigeria Summary and Verdict
While the Nigerians will try to bulldoze their way forward and take long shots at the goal, Croatia will try to keep possession in the mid-field in which the likes of Modric and Rakitic will have a crucial role to play and essay deliveries to the dangerous Mandzukic. With men like DejanLovren (Liverpool), Ivan Strinic (AC Milan) and Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid) marshalling the defence and Daniel Subasic manning the posts, the Croatians will feel relatively safe.
With so much talent and depth in their ranks, Zlatko Dalic's team are tipped to win the June 16 game at Kaliningrad. But it would be a folly to write off an unpredictable Nigeria. Nigeria's German coach Gernot Rohr, has tried out different formations like 3-5-2, 4-1-2-1-2 and 4-2-3-1 and plans to use them to positve effect in accordance to whatever his opposition intend throwing at him.
Rohr’s confidence stems from a 4-2 victory his team had registered against Argentina in a friendly late last year.
From the looks of it, the Croatia-Nigeria clash could turn out to be taut affair with neither side coming up trumps. A draw also seems a possibility.