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Analysis: Croatia - Turkey


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20:45 CET, World Cup Qualification: Croatia – Turkey @ Maksimir Stadion, Zagreb
Ref: Szymon Marciniak

Big match coming up in the first round of group I for the World Cup qualification with two of the teams expected to finish in the top of the group. Tonight I’m betting against my “second home-country", Croatia :)

Croatia prepared for this match playing a friendly against the oldest club in Croatia, HNK Segesta. It was the club’s 110th anniversary last month and to celebrate the birthday, they set up a match against their own idols from the national team. Coach Ante Cacic didn’t leave out any stars for this match and used the best players he has in the squad. All attackers (Mandzukic, Cop, Kramaric and Kalinic) gained some confidence scoring goals in the test match, although the opposition didn’t have much to say in this match, as they lost nothing less than 1-8 to the national team.

On the other hand, Turkey had a much more serious test against Russia, where they drew 0-0 in an equal match with only a couple of huge chances to both teams. They showed good control in their defence, and their young talents brought a lot to their attacking play throughout the whole game.

Due to prior riots from the Croatian fans, tonight’s game will be played without any spectators at Maksimir stadion in Zagreb, which of course increases the chances of Turkey to bring home 3 points.

Squad update:

Croatia’s former captain, the right wing-back Darijo Srna, retired from the national team after the Euro’s. Even though his replacement, Sime Vrsaljko (just moved to Atletico Madrid), is very strong defensively, he’s no way near Srna when having the ball. Croatia clearly prioritized the right side when creating chances during the Euros, having Srna to cross the ball almost every time he was in the attack, so Cacic needs to find another way to crack the code without the Shakhtar-player in his squad.
The AS Monaco’s keeper Danijel Subasic is still injured and will probably be replaced by Hajduk Split’s Lovre Kalinic. Lovre is a decent goal-keeper, but he’s missing the international experience that Subasic has.
Ivan Rakitic hasn’t been attending all training sessions during the preparation for this match, as his daughter had some health issues, so we might not see him in the starting 11 tonight.

Turkey is in Zagreb without their star player from Barcelona, Arda Turan, which obviously has a negative impact on the quality they’re bringing to the game, but they certainly have other players who can seal the deal in the attack.
Dortmund’s Turkish summer-signing, the young talent Emre Mor, played a great first half last week (didn’t see much of him during 2nd half) and it seems like he’s found his role on the team, moving the ball around between his opponents midfield and defending line, always challenging the other team - high pace and great control with the ball. Keep an eye on that guy during the next season!
Players like Gokhan Tore (West Ham, on loan from Besiktas) and Ozyakup (Besiktas) is also worth to mention on the Turkish midfield, and last but not least the Leverkusen playmaker and set piece specialist Hakan Calhanoglu. Turkey obviously has high international quality in their squad, and even though Croatia might have a better team overall, I honestly don’t see such a huge difference like the odds are telling us.


There’s no doubt that Croatia is a favourite to win this match – they were one of the best playing and most entertaining teams to watch during the Euros (except the last match against Portugal), but I believe that the odds shows an underestimation on some of the crucial factors for tonight’s match; the importance of Darijo Srna not being in the squad anymore, Danijel Subasic's injury, Rakitic with a bad preparation for this match and last but not least, the missing home advantage.

This morning I wasn’t sure whether to bet on asian handicap, double chance or the 1X2, but looking at the way the odds have evolved today, I simply can’t leave the high odds of an underdog victory.

With an estimated chance of a Turkey win on approximately 13.5%, you get a betvalue of 108% betting on the current odds of 8. The odds on Turkey has been increasing today, but I don’t expect it to get any higher before the match starts.

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