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Croatia Euro Cup Betting Prediction – Blazers Have Enough Discipline To Make Noise At Euro 2012

Posted by Todd Shale on 4/24/2012 4:56:21 PM

When it comes to Euro Cup betting odds for the European Championships this summer, Croatia is a mid-pack team for good reason, and they’re going to have a difficult time just making it out of their group. However, they have the tools to do so and once you get to the quarterfinals and start playing elimination games, anything can happen and Croatia is a smart team that won’t beat themselves. If they can just get out of their group, don’t count out the Croatians to go all the way.

Manager: Slaven Bilic (since July 2006)
Best Euro Finish: Quarterfinals (1996, 2008)
Soccer Betting Odds: +700 to win Group C, +4000 to win Euro 2012

Offense

The Blazers scored the most goals in their qualification group with 18 in 10 games, and they got three each from Eduardo and Mario Mandzukic in seven games in 2011. Those strikers will be important, but the heart of the Croatia attack is midfielder Luka Modric, who pulled the strings for Tottenham in England earlier in the season, but he has since fallen off the radar with a number of lackluster performances and Bilic will need him to find his form or else it could be an early exit. Modric’s play is even more important as Tottenham teammate Niko Kranjcar could miss the tournament because of a knee injury. Also, captain and fellow midfielder Darijo Srna can start an attack and he led the team with five assists; it’s incredible that the Shakhtar Donetsk captain isn’t playing for a bigger club and he is only turning 30 on May 1st.

Defense

Srna is also important to a defense that will be the crucial element to their soccer betting chances, as Croatia allowed just seven goals in their 10 matches; he protects the defense and because of his excellent passing ability, Srna doesn’t put his back four in a tough position. Stipe Pletikosa is the main man in goal for Croatia, while his most experienced defenders are Josip Simunic, Vedran Corluka and Danijel Pranjic; the latter two play in Germany. Their performance in qualification has to be taken with a grain of salt when you look at who they were facing in their group; Greece, Israel, Latvia, Georgia and Malta, none of which will even be confused with a Spain. But it was a solid foundation and provides Bilic with a glimpse of what his defenders can do. They’ll need to raise their game even further when they reach the tournament in Poland and the Ukraine.

Intangibles

The Croatians have won 40 and drawn 13 of 59 games under Bilic, who is regarded as one of the top managers in the world and one that can get the best out of his players. The Croats are very disciplined under Bilic and they don’t do a lot to beat themselves, which is going to be crucial at Euro 2012 just to get out of a difficult group stage. From top to bottom, Bilic may not have as much talent as other teams, but he puts his best players in positions to do well and that is all you can really ask of a good manager. Croatia failed to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa two years ago, and Bilic has them playing like a team that remembers that failure well.

How It Will Play Out

Soccer betting odds have Croatia as a +700 pick to win a Group C that includes the defending champions from Spain, as well as Italy and Ireland, and they’re rated at +4000 to win their first major tournament. Winning it all may prove to be a bit ambitious, but the Croatians definitely have enough to make it out of the group stages, which they have done twice in their three European Championship tournaments.

They’re not winning the group; Spain is far too good to allow that to happen, even if they don’t play their best. But Croatia can beat Italy and Ireland and that has to be their focus, just to make it to the next round and then, anything can happen. Croatia has to defend stoutly and take their chances when they come, especially against Italy, their biggest competition to get out of the group. We wouldn’t bet on Croatia to win their group, but they could be a dark horse to win the tournament after building some momentum, so consider their odds in your sports betting book.


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