Betting-Previews.com takes a look at a clash between Slovakia and Croatia, who will lock horns on Saturday, September 4, in the fifth round of Group H at World Cup 2022 Qualifiers. The two nations last met in November 2019, when Croatia won 3-1.
Slovakia vs Croatia
When: Saturday, September 4 – 20:45 CEST
Where: Tehelné pole in Bratislavs, Slovakia
Weather: Clear, 19°C
There are only three points separating the teams in Group H of World Cup 2022 qualifiers. Croatia sit atop Group H with seven points and +3 GD, followed by Russia with just as many points but a +2 GD.
Slovakia are third with six points from four matches, albeit they are the only undefeated team in the group. With that, Slovakia now have an excellent opportunity to overtake Croatia and climb their way to the summit of Group H and take one step closer to booking a ticket for Qatar.
Slovakia Eyeing Top Spot
Slovakia have managed a solid 1-3-0 record in Group H and remain the only undefeated team in the group. Their sole win came against Russia (2-1), who they beat in March, while the remaining three ended in a draw.
That includes games against Cyprus (0-0), Malta (2-2), and Slovenia (1-1), who they stole a point from midweek while playing at Stadion Stožice in Ljubljana. Perhaps saying that Slovakia stole a point isn’t fair, considering the teams looked evenly matched.
Stefan Tarkovic’s men ended the game with 51% ball possession and shot the ball 2/11, while Slovenia managed 9/5 in shots with 49% possession. The only two goals of the match happened in the first half, with Robert Bozenik helping his side grab a lead in 32’ and Slovenia responding with a goal of their own 10 minutes later via Empoli’s Petar Stojanovic.
It was a fair result, and both teams can be happy with the outcome of the match. We must also touch on Slovakia’s previous results – a win against Russia before EURO 2020 and a somewhat unconvincing 2-2 draw with Malta. Still, the Falcons came back from two goals down in that game, which is praiseworthy.
As for their performances at EURO 2020, Slovakia won against Poland (2-1) but lost against Sweden (0-1) and Spain (0-5). Results like that suggest that the Falcons might not be one of the most consistent teams, albeit they can be solid defensively.
An Up-And-Down Run
Croatia are 2-1-1 in Group H with seven points, which is good for a top spot. Over the four games, Croatia have produced somewhat inconsistent results, seeing how they have lost their opener against Slovenia (0-1), bounced back with back-to-back wins against Cyprus (1-0) and Malta (3-0), only to draw against Russia (0-0) on Wednesday.
You could argue that Zlatko Dalic’s men should have won against Russia, seeing how they have had more possession (59%) and did more with the ball (14 goal attempts), albeit were wasteful with their chances and managed only two shots on goal.
Seeing the 2018 World Cup runners-up struggle to deliver isn’t that shocking, considering Vatreni lost many of their star players, who retired from international football. Although they still have some quality left, most of the key players are aging.
On that note, Ante Rebic, Milan Badelj, Luka Modric, and Sime Versalijko are all out and will not play tonight.
Slovakia vs Croatia Betting Pick
Slovakia and Croatia last met during EURO qualifiers, way back in November 2019, when Croatia won 3-1 at Stadion HNK Rijeka. It marked their fourth head-to-head victory in history and their second consecutive.
It’s fair to point out that Croatia have yet to lose against Slovakia (4-2-0) and have done extremely well in their last two meetings (4-0, 3-1), albeit there is no hiding the fact that Croatia aren’t as strong as they used to be a couple of years back.
Both teams can be somewhat inconsistent, but if the midweek results are any indication, Slovakia should be in good shape and ready to push Croatia to their limits. Playing at home certainly helps the cause, and we believe there is value in backing the hosts to secure at least a point.
Prediction: Slovakia +0.50 Asian Handicap – 1.93 at Sportmarket
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