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UEFA Nations League: Can France Complete Hat-Trick of Croatia Conquests?


UEFA Nations League: Can France Complete Hat-Trick of Croatia Conquests?

Croatia vs France

Croatia and France meet again. These two countries come face-to-face for the third time in over two years. France have come out on top in their previous two meetings, famously beating the Croatians 4-2 in the 2018 World Cup final and 4-2 again in their first UEFA Nations League rematch.

Croatia will be hoping third time’s the charm as they host the world champions in Zagreb. The Croatians are coming off back-to-back wins against Switzerland and Sweden in this international break, while France could only manage a scoreless draw with Portugal.

But despite being away from home, the UEFA Nations League 2020 betting odds still favour the French, who possess the firepower to complete their hat-trick of wins over Croatia.

Talking Points

Croatia recovering from rough patch

Croatia had quite a rough start to their Nations League campaign as they were rocked 4-1 by a Ronaldo-less Portugal and 4-2 by France back in September.

They were without both of their star midfielders — Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic — for those two games. But while Rakitic remains out of the squad, Modric made his return against Sweden as Croatia have begun to recover from those two disastrous UEFA Nations League 2020 results.

The 35-year-old had a fine game against the Swedes as he pulled the strings in midfield and led Croatia to a 2-1 win.

Meanwhile, young Josip Brekalo has been a key player for the Croatians during this international break. The 22-year-old Wolfsburg winger played as a forward alongside Ivan Perisic against Sweden and set up Croatia’s first goal. He also scored in their 2-1 friendly win over Switzerland.

Brekalo got his first career international goal in Croatia’s 4-2 Nations League defeat to France. He came on a substitute in that game, but he figures to get the start this time around.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic played with a 4-3-3 formation in that previous match against France, and having Modric this time around will bring some added quality to their three-man midfield.

Andrej Kramaric could also be in line to reclaim his starting spot. The 29-year-old has had a brilliant start to the Bundesliga season for Hoffenheim with eight goals in four games, and he scored the winner against Sweden after coming on as a second-half substitute.

France attack still a work in progress

After demolishing Ukraine 7-1 in a recent friendly, France were given a much stiffer test by Portugal, who held the world champions to a goalless draw.

It was a very even game. Portugal just barely edged the possession battle, while the two teams tied in both total shots (10) and shots on target (3).

France coach Didier Deschamps continued with his ongoing Nations League experiment to play Antoine Griezmann in the No. 10 role just behind two strikers, Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe.

That formation didn’t quite look all that effective against a defensive Portugal side that had two defensive midfielders who left Griezmann very little room to work with.

If Deschamps decides to stick with his front three against Croatia — which is likely — it could potentially be more effective. Croatia’s style is much less conservative than Portugal’s and they allowed more room for opponents to play.

Griezmann played well in the first meeting against Croatia as he scored a goal and set up another. Kylian Mbappe will also be available this time around after missing out last month due to injury.

And if the French attack struggles, Deschamps has a wealth of weapons he can call upon from his bench with Anthony Martial, Houssem Aouar, and 17-year-old Eduardo Camavinga, who scored his first career international goal against Ukraine.

History

Croatia are yet to record a single win against France. In their seven all-time meetings, Les Bleus have won five and drawn twice.

France have won each of their last two matches by identical 4-2 scorelines, the first of which was during the 2018 World Cup final.

Betting Tip

Croatia Asian Handicap +0.25 @ 2.01

SBOTOP odds have France as 2.21 favourites to get a third straight win over Croatia, who are priced at 3.25 to win. Meanwhile, a draw is at 3.15.

Although Croatia have not beaten France in their history and have not looked particularly impressive in this Nations League campaign, they are still a decent side. Modric’s return will be a major boost to their midfield.

Even if they don’t get their first win over France, Croatia can at least makes things more competitive at home, which is why they are good value at +0.25 on the Asian Handicap market.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.


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