Croatia v Scotland
Tuesday 22 June, 20:00 BST kick-off
Live on ITV4
Last chance for Croatia stars
Croatia are undoubtedly a shadow of their former selves, and yet as we go into the final group games they still have a chance to qualify and even go through as runners-up in the group depending on the other game.
It’s been disappointing so far from Zlatko Dalic’s side, who have been too slow and ponderous in possession and lacking in cutting edge up front. They’ll need at least a goal here as only a win will do for either side to make the knockouts.
If Croatia are to sneak through, they’ll have to do something they’ve never done before, and that’s beat Scotland. Only against France and Portugal have the Croats played more games without winning than against Scotland, who they’ve not beaten in their five meetings (D3 L2).
With just two wins in 11 and no win in four, the form isn’t great for Croatia, who will face a huge rebuilding process if this golden generation of players can’t make it through to the knockouts here.
Scots on a high after Wembley draw
Few 0-0 draws have been celebrated more than Scotland’s at Wembley, and it’s easy to forget in all the euphoria that they haven’t yet scored in this tournament and failure to do so again will send them out.
It’s time to get serious now, for as much as many Scottish fans are deliriously happy just to be here, the players know they have a great chance to make history and actually get out of the group stages of a major tournament for the first time ever.
It looks like an ageing Croatia side they’ll face, who may have more of the ball but may not relish the kind of energy and physicality that Scotland produced against England.
The opening defeat to the Czechs was Scotland’s first defeat in nine at Hampden Park, and although they’ve only ever scored four goals at the Euros, all of those goals have come in their final group games.
Having Kieran Tierney back was huge, and Che Adams was a handful, so you wouldn’t expect Steve Clarke to make too many changes for this huge game.
While the England performance was impressive, this game now comes with a different pressure – Scotland simply must score, and must win, if they are to achieve their dream.
Croatia still favourites with Scotland’s scoring woes
Croatia being slight 2.3811/8 favourites is as much down to Scotland’s inability to score as it is about their own form. Scotland are 2.915/8 and the draw, which is absolutely useless to both teams, is 3.711/4 and is only as short as that as there is the chance that neither side will find a way to get the ball into the net.
It seems the most basic of things but continues to be the hardest thing in football – and goals aren’t usually on the menu with the five games between the two all posting under 2.5 goals and only two seeing both teams score.
Look, there’s always a chance an early goal sparks a flurry of attacking football, but in these must-win deciders there’s always plenty of nerves and for all Scotland’s intent and energy, they know if they go too gung-ho and get caught out early that could be curtains for their chances.
Under 2.5 goals at 1.875/6 here simply must be your starting bet, while both teams NOT to score at 2.111/10 should not be dismissed – as essentially here we have two teams who don’t win or don’t score a lot and are under the most immense pressure.
Scotland have failed to notch in five of their last eight tournament games and have had 30 shots at goal without success at Euro 2020 – will that ultimately be their downfall?
It’s a coin toss, so back a tight, tense affair
I think this is a coin toss of a game, I really do. It’s not hard to figure out the game plans, Croatia want to keep the ball and Scotland want to hassle and press and look to hit them hard early, but it just has all the hallmarks of getting to the last 20 minutes with it all still hanging in the balance.
We’ll need some late heroics, and if it’s to come from Croatia than Ivan Perisic would be the first name on the list – he’s now scored eight goals across four major tournaments and is 3.7511/4 to add to his tally.
It might even be worth risking the 8.515/2 on him as first goalscorer as there may only be one goal in this.
For Scotland, Lydon Dykes leads the team with six shots and two on target, with Che Adams and John McGinn both having five efforts on goal without hitting the target. They simply have to do better and while Adams, at 3.412/5 to score anytime has looked more of a threat than Dykes at 3.7511/4 – McGinn may be the value at 6.05/1.
But you’re guessing a bit with the player markets as unlikely heroes often pop up in these games, and there should be a lot more nerves than there are goals. The match to still be drawn after an hour at 2.47/5 would sum this game up perfectly.
The half-time draw though at 2.111/10 looks a nice way in to this betting heat with so many scoring issues on both sides, and you could even stretch that out to it being 0-0 at the break at 2.89/5.
This game should be going down to the wire – it just wouldn’t be Scotland any other way.