Gareth Bale for one will be delighted to get back to playing football again after warming the bench at Real Madrid since the return of Zidane, when Wales take on Croatia in their Group E Euro 2020 qualifying clash on Saturday. Form Labs breaks down the action with their betting preview and tips for the game while as ever we have the value with our selection of enhanced odds available on our FanBoosts section.
Croatia may have reached the World Cup final, but it’s easy to forget they enjoyed the kindest fixture list possible en route, while the team they’ll put out against Wales will be considerably diminished by way of comparison.
The likes of Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic, goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and veteran defender Vedran Corluka have retired from the international scene, while left-back Ivan Strinic hasn’t been seen for a year now owing to a heart problem and injury issues on his return to training.
Backup left-back Josip Pivaric is absent through injury, as are right-back Sime Vrsaljko, attacker Ante Rebic and key central midfielder Ivan Rakitic, while Nikola Kalinic hasn’t featured in national team colours since being sent home right near the beginning of the World Cup.
Giggs To Give Youth A Chance
Wales have their own crucial absentee in Aaron Ramsey, but while missing the Juve-bound midfielder or Gareth Bale is usually a monumental blow for the Dragons, much of the changes to their squad are by design.
Ryan Giggs seems determined to give youth a chance, though there are some bright talents coming through including full-back Connor Roberts, winger Daniel James, Chelsea’s Ethan Ampadu, Bournemouth’s David Brooks, as well as Liverpool duo Ben Woodburn and Harry Wilson.
There’s still experience from the old guard as Joe Allen and Ashley Williams retain their places in the squad.
A win over Slovakia in their sole qualifier so far got Wales off to a perfect start and though Zlatko Dalic’s men have played a game more, they’re stuck on three points after dropping points away in Hungary.
However, Croatia are a different proposition on home turf, where they’ve won 19 of 23 unbeaten games since November 2013, and though missing great chunks of their team, there’s still some serious quality in the squad.
Dejan Lovren comes fresh from Liverpool having just received a Champions League winners’ medal, the midfield can still boast Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic, while there’s still a goal threat with Ivan Perisic and Andrej Kramaric.
Croatia v Wales Betting Tips
It’s hard to go against Croatia in their own back yard but the missing players could lead to a disjointed performance, with over half of the 11 that started in the World Cup final absent.
They’ve now failed to shut their opponents out in 12 of their last 13 matches, including recent encounters with Jordan, Azerbaijan and Hungary, and with Wales developing promising, young forward talents, both teams to score appears the way to go.
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