Euro 2012 betting preview - Group C - Croatia 2/2
In the previous Euro 2012 betting preview article, we covered the Euro 2012 odds available on Croatia plus looked at their key players in defense. If you have not already read it, you can read it here. Below we continue our coverage by taking a look at Croatia's key players in midfield and attack.
Key Men: Midfield
Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donestk) 90 Caps, 19 goals. Darijo is the Captain of Croatia. He is a right midfielder and one of the best players in the national team. A key attacking player as he scores a lot of goals and provides many assists. In addition, he is very creative and has an eye for the killer ball, a good engine, and is up and down the pitch for 90 minutes. A potential downside is that he may be forced to move to right back, if this happens it would seriously weaken team offensively.
Luka Modric (Tottenham) 54 caps, 8 goals. He is well know to most of us and one of the best players of the season in the English Premier league. His style is very similar to Xavi, he takes control of games with his excellent short passing and great awareness. Attacking Midfielder is his best position, but he can play anywhere across the middle. Modric has not scored as many goals as he should for Tottenham, but was initially deployed as defensive/deep lying midfielder. Croatia will try and get the ball to him as much as possible, and he is the central figure for Croatia no doubt.
Niko Kranjcar (Tottenham) 69 Caps, 15 goals. As the top scorer in the qualifying, Kranjcar should be a first choice player for his country, although this is not the case. A very talented midfielder with an excellent goalscoring record, he has found it difficult to even get on the pitch at Tottenham. Playing only 12 games for Tottenham this season he finds himself behind fellow Croat Modric and Welsh star Gareth Bale. His strenghts are excellent passing, control and vision, and an eye for goal. Plus he is great from dead balls, and very accurate with his long range shooting.
Ognjen Vukojevic (Dynamo Kiev) 37 caps, 3 goals. As a defensive midfielder, Vukojevic is strong and energetic. He will sit in front of the back four and dictate the play. A notable strength is that he is a very good striker of the ball, with goals from distance a feature, and has got a good strike rate for a defensive midfielder.
Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla) 39 caps, 8 goals. Although playing centrally for Sevilla, Rakitic will move wide to the left for Croatia. This is a player with great vision which keeps the ball well, and he takes many of the free kicks. He has only scored once in over 35 games this season, which is a slight worry. Is in competition to start with Danijel Pranjic, but Bilic seems to prefer the Sevilla man.
Midfield Analysis: Croatia will play the diamond formation with Vukojevic anchoring. Modric will be the attacking midfielder with Srna up and down the right side. Danijel Pranic, or more likely Ivan Rakitic, will play left. Croatia have a very able midfield, dangerous but balanced, and capable of creating and scoring goals. This is by far their strong point. They will struggle against Spain no doubt, but the midfield is as good as Italy's and better than Republic of Irelands.
Key Men: Forwards
Eduardo (Shakhtar Donetsk) 45 Caps, 22 goals. The Brazilian born, but naturalised Croatian, started the most games in qualification, but may not be a guaranteed starter in the finals. Currently he is a 4th choice striker for his club and some say not the same player since a horrific double leg break when playing for Arsenal. Eduardo still boasts a 1 goal in 2 games strike rate. He is a small and fast striker who plays on the shoulder of defenders, and a deadly finisher in and around the box.
Mario Mandzukic (Wolfsburg) 27 caps, 5 goals. Mario is a strong and powerful centre forward, generally considered the best of the bunch, but not by us. Although he is an excellent link up player and good passer, he is also a confidence player and prone to hiding.
Nikica Jelavic (Everton) 18 caps, 2 goals. This player is a centre forward who is flying at the moment. Jelavic has scored 23 times this season. He is an extremely clinical finisher with the majority of his goals being one touch finishes. Although he prefers to play with a partner, he can lead the line alone as he has shown this season with Everton. The downside is his poor record internationally, with only 2 goals in 18 games.
Ivica Olic (Bayern Munich) 77 caps, 15 goals. Olic is an all-action centre forward with prolific work rate, with an excellent scoring record at club level. He hasn't featured as much this season, but will go into the Championship fresher than most. In the team sheet setup he goes head to head with Jelavic to partner Mandzukic.
Forwards analysis: Croatia have a wide variety of strikers available for selection, but it is a problematic situation for Bilic. Jelavic is the in-form club striker with 23 goals is season, but a poor conversion rate for internationals. Ivica Olic is a fan favourite due to his industrious work rate and vital goals. I think Mandzukic and Jelavic will start the 1st match.
Croatia have taken part in four European Championships since they gained independence in 1991. They have managed two Quarter Final appearances in that time. What will this Championship bring? Croatia is an interesting team for sure, but as mentioned they will have their work cut out for them when trying to beat Spain and Italy, and despite their strong midfield we see it as most likely that they will not advance any further than the group stage. In any case, we are looking forward to some interesting matches and have no doubt there will pop up some great Euro 2012 betting opportunities!