Croatia vs Greece by Blackcrow
Problem for them, is that relentless pressure will eventually tell, and if it does not happen in this game, then expect to see it in the second leg a few days later. Croatia has the quality in their side and expect them to dominate possession. They will create some chances and if they can put one of these chances away in the first half, then it is up to the Greeks to decide what they do from there. The loss of Manolas in the middle of the defence for the Greeks is massive in this first leg, and his leadership will be missing, when they really need it in Zagreb.
While Croatia should dominate possession, and create more chances, the Greeks should not be underestimated. They have shown in drawing 1-1 in Belgium when they led and then allowed a late equaliser, and then losing 2-1 to the Belgians in Greece, they are a team that can be competitive with the better sides, and they have the knack of absorbing pressure and hitting teams on the counter. In this game, you see Croatia take a first half lead, and then score twice more in the last quarter of the game, as that pressure takes its toll. However Croatia's defence can get sloppy, as shown in the 1-1 draw at home with Finland, and can see the Greeks getting a late consolation goal, which makes the second leg a bit more interesting.
The conventional wisdom is that this will be game that gets bogged down in the Greeks defensive third as they park the bus, but believe that Croatia can exploit that field position by using the speed of Perisic to get in behind them, and then seeing Mandzukic (as long as he plays as he is some doubt of not playing. If not maybe Kalinic) getting on the end of these crosses. With Modric they have someone who with his range of passing can put players into space while Rakitic has the nous to get into the right position to get on the end of these passes. The big players tend to step up in the big games, and believe these two in particular can lead them to victory. Croatia does not want to go to Greece without a lead, as it will be much more different, and difficult, to win there, than when they went to the Ukraine and won there
There is more optimism in this Croatian team with the new coach, and that extra belief can see them through this first leg. Probably more wishful thinking, but can see them winning 3-1 here.
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|Croatia to win and both teams to score||Bet365||4.25||4||4-1 WON (+13 units)|