Croatia and Scotland square off in World Cup qualifier
Will Croatia come through as the odds makers’ favourite or will Scottish pride defy the soccer bettor’s odds? Check out our analysis and picks for this all-important international clash below.
Scottish pride at stake
Despite having four World Cup qualifiers yet to contest, Scotland have but pride to play for when they take on Croatia in Zagreb on Friday. Something that’s garnered very little stock in the market as bookies across all platforms list Scotland at ridiculously large odds for the outright win. William Hill for example has set a Scotland win at a superfluous +700 betting odds. It’s a – in a word – pipedream.
Propping up Group A with two sad points after going winless in six fixtures (0-2-4), Scotland’s bid for Brazil 2014 is well and truly over. Coach McGhee insists however there is still everything to play for against Group A co-leaders Croatia, one of which is consideration for future squads. The opportunity for a player to prove to the manager he deserves to be considered for future instalments of the national team.
Be that as it may, it’s not enough to suggest the Scots have a shot in this match at all. Moreover, the Scots roster already has been depleted for one reason or another. Six players are slated to miss the journey to Zagreb – Scott Brown, James Forrest, Danny Fox, Lee Wallace, Gary Caldwell and Liam Bridcutt. As well, Gordon Greer just pulled out and Grant Hanley, who is nursing an ankle injury, remains questionable. The sum of which has caused some major line movements within several sportsbooks today. So what began with a line on Scotland installed as a triple digit underdog (as mentioned above) is now a line moving upwards of +1000 betting odds at Bet365.
Scotland benefited from a favourable World Cup qualifying draw when it fell into a wide open group that included Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Belgium and Wales. At the start, they were perceived to have a good chance to build on the third-place finish from 2010 World Cup qualifying. Now that hope is a distant memory. They failed to capitalize on it and are left with having to look back at their campaign and rue some of the missed opportunities, namely the tie with Wales that ended with 2:1 defeats at home and on the road and the 1:1 draw to Macedonia at home.
Croatia looks to advance its cause for Brazil
Unanimously bookmakers send Croatia into this clash as the indisputable favourites to win outright. Prices range somewhat: William Hill offers a high price at-350 on Croatia while Bet365 offers a slightly better price of -333, if you are so inclined.
Croatia is soaring high in Group A action with an undefeated run in six games – five wins and a draw. The misstep came early in their campaign when they settled on a 1:1 draw to Belgium in Brussels. Since then they’ve reeled off four straight wins, scoring two goals in each and twice maintaining a clean sheet. Incidentally, this is where the value bets on Croatia can be found; that is on the predicting the score. A 1-0 score is listed at +450 while a 2-0 score is listed at +500 at William Hill. A 3-0 or 4-0 score can be found at +700 and +1400, respectively with both William Hill and Bet365.
The Croats have been impressive. Well, at least within the context of the group. Let’s face it it’s not as if they’re faced with having to battle heavyweights such as Italy, Spain, Netherlands...and so on for an invite to Brazil. That would be a different story altogether, especially if they were on top of such a group.
Nonetheless, from the start of their campaign, they were singled out as the favourites to emerge and they are on pace to doing just that. Belgium, the outside favourites in Group A, is giving Croatia a serious run for its money and hence this fixture with Scotland holds a great deal of importance to Croatia towards gaining ground.
Soccer Betting Verdict
Given Scotland’s disappointing campaign so far and all the injury woes that have all of a sudden befallen them it’s hard to see how they can possible gain a result in Zagreb. Hands down the smart play is Croatia, the bookies favourite across the board. Moreover, they have the incentive to win – an invitation to Brazil is on the line. Such an incentive trumps pride in any book.
Soccer tips: Croatia to win 2-0 for you free soccer picks.