Current odds:

The odds again look OK with two goals or less favoured and Croatia favoured to win. This appears, at the moment to be shaping up as a nice ASP trade. Both of these teams play open and fluent football and therefore goals could be plentiful even though the odds do not reflect this. Expect goals and be cautious of your AO liability, but not stifled by it.

General:

I like Croatia. I think they are talented and interesting to watch and instinctively I want to say that they will easily find the measure of the Czech Republic team and beat them but the Czech’s were better against Spain in the first game than I expected. I think you have to also build into the thought process the view that Spain were lacking in recent good form and likely nervous as a result and so perhaps they were also a better team than the general view suggested in that first game.

Spain are, of course, another big team that can never be discounted in big tournaments. So I need to pick through the noise and make an assessment that leaves me with a real expectation of where the Czech Republic, Croatia game is going to go. To do that I need to really work out how good the Czech’s were against Spain and how likely, therefore, they are to beat Croatia. The easy option here is to call this game as a draw but I don’t actually think it will be because both of these teams will look for goals.

I wasn’t very flattering about Turkey before the Turkey v Croatia game as I didn’t really rate them much. Their style is stifling and, frankly boring, however they showed me more than I expected in their first game and even displayed moments of attacking flare. However, Croatia, as I expected, did beat them and their key player, Luka Modric was the real difference, especially with his goal, the only goal of the game as it transpires.

Some facts from the first games played by these two teams:

  1. Croatia beat Turkey with just the one goal but it was a better attacking game than the score-line reflects. even Turkey showed moments of flare in attack. There was some debate as to whether Modric’s goal was brilliant or lucky (as in a debate about whether the goalkeeper could have done better). Personally, I sit in the brilliant camp. I think by the time the goalkeeper saw it, it was too late. It was a stunning first touch volley.
  2. The Czech Republic will feel cheated by their defeat to Spain, especially as it took until 87 minutes into the game for Spain to score and the Czech’s had plenty of chances to score too so they will see Croatia as an opportunity to gain points.
  3. There is no way anyone can read this coming game as having a really dominant team involved. Both of these sides are capable of scoring and that is why expecting a draw is the easy option. The game could be fluent and full of goals or they could just balance each other out.
  4. Overall Croatia just showed more skill (to me anyway) than the Czech Republic did and, in addition, their defence was heroic – just look at Vedran Corluka and his bandaged head. How many times did he have to walk off (reluctantly it must be said) for treatment. The images of blood pouring from his head wound sum up how gutsy Croatia are and how much they want this. I do hope he is patched up enough to play in this game, Croatia could miss him if not and that could be a key point to look for. Is Corluka playing?
  5. I believe that Croatia lacked a little in striking power but do have the players to compensate for that and I expect an even better performance against the Czech Republic. They are not a side that will sit on their 3 points to date and try to build a wall.
  6. Whatever you say about Turkey, their stifling style is hard to play against and the Czech Republic’s more open and flowing style will suit Croatia better but, it also applies the other way.
  7. The Czech’s need to come at this game with a view to winning, this makes for a fluent, attacking game and because of this more than anything I expect a winner and I expect, unlike most predictions I’ve seen, goals.

A 2-1 win to Croatia is my expectation. I would not be surprised though to see a 3-1, 3-2 or even a 2-2 result although I do favour the draw less. If it goes 4 to one side I believe there will be opportunities to trade through it with an expectation of goals from both teams.