Odds Croatia Will Win World Cup 2014
Croatia is returning to World Cup action after failing to qualify for the tournament in 2010. The Croats have won just one match in World Cup competition since reaching the semifinal as the Cinderella story of the 1998 World Cup. However, after needing a two-game aggregate playoff win over Iceland just to qualify for the tourney, and drawing into the same group as Mexico and host Brazil, the Croats will be hard-pressed to repeat their 1998 heroics.
Despite being pegged as the best bet in Group A after Brazil, Croatia faces a number of challenges. The hot June weather in Brazil that is expected to greet both players and fans could be particularly hard on the Croats, who have played outside of Europe just twice since 2010. In addition, star forward Mario Mandzukic will miss Croatia’s opening match against Brazil while he serves a one-game suspension received for a red-card during playoff action.
Early World Cup Pick
Without Mandzukic, Croatia will be a heavy underdog against Brazil in their opening match. The host Brazilians are favored to win both Group A and the tournament. However, Croatia has had some success against Brazil in their brief history head-to-head, drawing 1-1 in a 2005 friendly and losing 1-0 in the group stage of the 2006 World Cup; their only loss in the tournament.
While Cameroon will be less affected by the steamy Brazilian weather, they should not pose a threat to the Croats. The biggest match of Group A is likely to be between Croatia and Mexico. A victory against Mexico would likely advance Croatia to the Round of 16.
Croatia Qualifying Results - How they got to the World Cup
Croatia finished second in their qualifying group, behind Belgium, and went on to defeat Iceland 2-0 on aggregate, scoring both goals in their match in Zagreb.
12/10/12 Macedonia FYR 1 – 2 Croatia
16/10/12 Croatia 2 – 0 Wales
22/03/13 Croatia 2 – 0 Serbia
26/03/13 Wales 1 – 2 Croatia
07/06/13 Croatia 0 – 1 Scotland
06/09/13 Serbia 1 – 1 Croatia
11/10/13 Croatia 1 – 2 Belgium
15/10/13 Scotland 2 – 0 Croatia
15/11/13 Iceland 0 – 0 Croatia
19/11/13 Croatia 2 – 0 Iceland
Croatia World Cup Group Play Schedule
12/06/14 Brazil vs. Croatia - Arena Corinthians
18/06/14 Cameroon vs. Croatia - Arena Amazonia
23/06/14 Croatia vs. Mexico - Arena Pernambuco
Croatia Key Players
Luka Modric MF, Real Madrid – The highly skilled playmaker and attacking mid-fielder needs to have a good tournament for Croatia to advance.
Mario Mandzukic FW, Bayern Munich – A standout performer for Croatia at Euro 2012, Mandzukic will sit a one-game suspension to start the tourney.
Ivan Rakitic MF, Sevilla – Two-footed and highly skilled, Rakitic will pair with Modric in a strong Croatian midfield.