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After a pretty stale draw at Wembley against England, the Scots are still in with a chance of qualifying for the round of 16, though nothing less than a win here will do and that’s much easier said than done against the World Cup finalists.
What has been proven though is that Croatia have deteriorated in quality in the three years since that World Cup, with the absence of Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Rakitic proving extremely costly, while Luka Modric is past his prime now and struggling to carry them through.
Scotland played with a lot of energy against England and that was enough to nullify the hosts’ attacking threat, though it wasn’t enough in their opener against the Czech Republic.
That said, it’s just three defeats in 18 matches now for the Scots, and I’d be surprised if they weren’t the team more up for this match.
While that record shows how difficult they’ve been to beat, they’ve won just two of their last 10, drawing five and one point won’t be enough for either side here, so we’ll avoid backing that market.
Scotland To Beat Croatia
Croatia have now won just twice in 11 games as they go through a transitional period, and with those wins coming against Cyprus and Malta, the Tartan Army will certainly feel they have a chance of taking maximum points.
In fairness to Croatia, that run certainly hasn’t been the easiest, with four of their six defeats in that time coming against France, Portugal, England, and Belgium, though defeats to Sweden and Slovenia are an indication that they’re going through a testing period.
Notably, all six of those recent defeats have come by just the single goal margin as they tend to remain competitive all the way through, and that seems to be where the value lies here.
Of Scotland’s 10 wins in that 18-match run, seven have come either on penalties or by that one goal margin, with the exceptions coming against the Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan and San Marino, none of whom are of Croatia’s quality.
Man of the Match in the England game, Billy Gilmour, won’t be available for selection here having contracted Coronavirus, and that will be a massive loss up against this Croatian midfield picked with quality, though the visitors haven’t created enough going forward so far this tournament to suggest they’ll run the show, and that grit, along with the home support, may just see Scotland over the line.
Croatia have never beaten Scotland in five previous meetings, with the first three finishing all square, and Scotland taking the spoils in the last two, both coming as recently as 2013, that should give them confidence.