Croatia vs Belgium Odds, Preview, Prediction | World Cup Match Analysis

Croatia vs Belgium Odds, Preview, Prediction | World Cup Match Analysis article feature image

Koji Watanabe, DeFodi Images/Getty. Pictured: Luka Modric and Kevin De Bruyne.

  • Croatia and Belgium meet in an all-important World Cup match.
  • Is there a way to take advantage of the betting value here?
  • Read on for Ian Quillen's preview.

Croatia vs. Belgium Odds

Thursday, Dec. 1
10 a.m. ET
Croatia Odds+175
Belgium Odds+155
Over/Under2.5 (+100 / -125)
Both Teams to Score (Yes/No)(-134 / +100)
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute World Cup odds here.

Croatia and Belgium meet in a Group F finale on Thursday that is more complicated than most envisioned when this group was drawn.

The two European sides were both favored to advance to the round of 16 ahead of Morocco and Canada. But Morocco have proven a worthy adversary, earning a scoreless draw against Croatia and defeating Belgium to stake their own claim to a second-round appearance.

Croatia can seal their place in the next round with a draw, while Belgium are only guaranteed a spot with all three points. Both teams will also monitor Morocco's finale against an eliminated Canada side that have still showed enough talent to play spoiler.

These two nations have two of the older rosters on the tournament, and both have been title contenders on the global and European stage in recent years. However, they haven’t met in a competitive fixture since Belgium’s World Cup Qualifying victory on Oct. 11 of 2013.

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Croatia Looking Better After Slow Start

Croatia have the oldest star of the tournament in 37-year-old midfield talisman Luka Modric and several other players aged 30 or older. Yet there's more balance in the squad than some realize.

Seven of the 12 players with starts for manager Zlatko Dalic are under 30, including three of the four who have played all 180 minutes.

Against a youthful Canada side that put Croatia on notice early through Alphonso Davies’ second-minute opener, there were few signs of a team long in the tooth. Eventually, the 2018 World Cup runners up surgically deconstructed Canada through the midfield, answering with two goals before half and two more after in a 4-1 win.

Andrej Kramaric scored twice, Modric had two assists, and the Croats generated 2.6 expected goals (xG). That was the fourth-highest total posted so far in a game this tournament entering Wednesday.

That dominance came after an underwhelming 0-0 opener against Morocco, which looks like a better result now than it did at the time. The Moroccans allowed Croatia roughly two-thirds of the possession, however, a dynamic Dalic’s team are unlikely to see repeated on Thursday.

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Belgium Facing All Types of Problems

Warning lights are flashing that the end of the Red Devils’ Golden Generation window is quickly approaching.

Their performances, a fortunate 1-0 win over Canada and a deserved 2-0 loss to Morocco, are only a part of it. There’s also the chatter surrounding the nation that suggests a dressing room at odds with each other and perhaps also manager Roberto Martinez.

First came attacker Kevin De Bruyne’s comments saying his team was too old to win the tournament despite their No. 2 FIFA World Ranking. Then came reports that De Bruyne, Jan Vertonghen and Eden Hazard had a physical altercation following their loss to Morocco.

Six of the eight Belgium players that have started both games are above 30-years old. And although there weren’t any major signs in qualifying or UEFA Nations League play recently of a precipitous drop-off, that may be happening now at the worst possible time. 

Belgium’s -1.1 xG difference per 90 minutes is the third-worst posted in the tournament. By itself, such an extremely small sample might be noise. But it reinforces the smell of all the other smoke rising from the Red Devils’ camp.

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Croatia vs. Belgium Pick

Croatia are ranked 10 spots lower than Thursday's foes in the FIFA rankings, which take several years of results into account. But the recent form and data suggest Croatia are the better side right now.

Whether the cause is a Belgium team reaching the end of its window, some other dysfunction at play, or both is hard to say. It also probably doesn’t matter.

Depending what happens with Morocco and Canada, a tie could still suit both teams, so you might not want to rule it out of the equation. 

But you generally don’t see complete reversals of form from two teams on matchday three compared to the first two games of a short tournament. 

As such, Croatia are the side to pick here on the draw no bet line. 

The Pick: Croatia – Draw No Bet (-102)

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