Croatia v Mexico – Croatians To Crush Mexican WaveStats
Croatia v Mexico
Croatia and Mexico have both impressed so far, but who will hold their nerve in what is effectively a knockout game.
Croatia bounced back from the perceived injustice of losing their opening game to Brazil with an impressive 4-0 victory over Cameroon in their second group game last Wednesday night. Mario Mandzukic marked his return from suspension with a brace, adding to Ivica Olic’s opener and Ivan Perisic’s goal just after half time.
The Blazers have lost just one game – against Brazil – since Niko Kovač took charge of the first team, while the win over Cameroon was their biggest ever at a World Cup finals. Mandzukic now has three goals in his last two appearances for his country.
Mexico began the campaign with a facile win over Cameroon in a game where they had two perfectly good goals disallowed for infringements but still emerged as 1-0 victors. They then battled impressively to a goalless draw with Brazil and despite goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa getting all the plaudits they were worthy of their point.
El Tri have now kept consecutive clean sheets at the World Cup and have only once conceded more than a single goal in a game in their last nine matches.
Luka Modric shook off a knock to play in the game against Cameroon and managed the full 90 minutes, so can be expected to be fit for this one. Mario Mandzukic’s return from suspension provided some added impetus to the Croatian attack and we should see an almost unchanged XI here.
Mexico could also name an unchanged XI for the third game in a row, which would mean no place in the starting XI for Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez.
Mexico and Croatia met in their opening games of the 2002 World Cup with the Central American outfit coming out on top. Cuauhtémoc Blanco scored the only goal of the game from a penalty that resulted from a Boris Živković foul and consequent red card.
Mexico and Croatia have impressed so far in the tournament and it would be a slightly harsh exit for either to go out of the tournament at the group stages. A draw would be enough to see El Tri progress to the last 16, but I feel that Croatia pose the greater threat and can get the job done at odds of 6/4.
Mandzukic holds the key and at odds of 11/2 to score first and 6/4 to net anytime is a good value bet in the goalscorer markets.
Goals in general may be sparse, however, and Under 2.5 goals is a good bet at odds of 4/6. Likewise the No selection in the Both Teams To Score market at Even money odds.