With Brazil considered a lock to move through to the next round, the second spot is up for grabs in decently equal Group A. Take a look at our preview of Team Croatia and some expectations for them.
The distinctive red and white checkerboard shirts of Croatia make only their second appearance in the World Cup Finals. Their only other venture to this stage of the competition saw them finish third overall after a controversial semi-final in which Croatian captain Slaven Bilic faked an injury to get French captain Laurent Blanc sent off.
They will be hoping for a less dramatic ending this time around, but their start to the tournament will be blighted by another red card as Mario Mandzukic misses their opener against hosts Brazil after being sent off in the final game of qualifying against Iceland.
Brazil aside, Group A looks to be wide open, with Cameroon and Mexico both fighting Niko Kovac’s side for second spot behind the Brazilians. Croatia are currently a rather short 1.9 with 888.com not to make it out of the group, but with Cameroon unpredictable and the Mexicans in dire form during qualifying, a better bet looks to be the 3.25 on offer at BetVictor for a second round exit. With that second round game almost certain to be against holders Spain or 2010 runners up Holland, that round of sixteen looks to be the limit of Croatian ambitions.
The Croatians come to Brazil with one of the strongest pools of attacking talent in the competition. Even without Mandzukic, they can field any combination of Eduardo, Ivica Olic and Nikita Jelevic against the Brazilians. Despite that enforced absence Mandzukic is the favourite in their top goalscorer market at 3.5, but Eduardo at 7.0 looks a much better bet (both prices from BetVictor).
Predicting the number of points that they may finish with is tricky, because of the even matchup between the three ‘visiting’ sides. Four points looks realistic, priced at 4.0, but six at a price of 6.0 (again, both prices from BetVictor) is also possible and at those prices you can afford to cover both without risking too much of a loss on one.