This game looks set to be a very one sided game with the top team in Group I taking on the bottom team. With a huge 12 points difference between them in the standings, this looks set to be a very tough game for Kosovo, and one where I think they are going to really struggle.
I don’t think Croatia will take them lightly and ease off, because they may need their good goal difference with the top of the table being so tight. Four teams are in contention to win the group and if it remains as tight as it is now, goals will be key. That means one thing for Kosovo and that is that they are in for a very tough game on Saturday.
Croatia currently sit at the top of Group I with 13 points from their first six games. They are joint top with Iceland, although are currently top of the group due to a better goal difference. Both Turkey and Ukraine will still have hopes of qualification and they are just two points behind the top two, so Croatia have three teams chasing them down for that all important top spot.
Should Croatia fail to finish top then they would end up in the playoffs with a second placed finish and that would be tough for them. However, dropping down to 3rd or 4th would mean Croatia missing out on the World Cup all together, which would be a huge surprise for this talented team.
The run-in is not easy for Croatia after this game, they have two very tough away trips to Turkey and Ukraine. In between those games they have a home game against Finland, which is a game they should win, but qualification is far from secure for Croatia.
Kosovo are relatively new to this level of football and it is no surprise to see them sit at the bottom of the table with just one point from their six games in Group I. That point came away from home against Finland and to be fair to Kosovo that was a fantastic result for them. They know they are going to struggle here, but I am sure they will give it their all and play with pride.
After this game, Kosovo have three more games to play, with one of those having huge importance. That is a home game against Finland, which takes place next week and they will genuinely believe they could grab their first win of the competition when they face Finland. They finish the campaign with a home game against Ukraine and an away trip to Iceland, both are going to be very tough for them.
Croatia have an abundance of attacking options to choose from and it will be interesting to see who plays in this game. I don’t think they will rest too many players because they will want to win this game by a few goals. Therefore I expect we will see players like Mario Mandzukic and Nikola Kalinic on the field and they will fancy their chances of scoring.
The players who take to the field for Kosovo will know this is going to be tough for them. What they need to do is enjoy the experience and do their best to learn from it, despite how hard it gets during the game.
Top Betting Tips
I am expecting nothing else other than a very comfortable victory for Croatia in this game. Had this game taken place earlier in the competition then I would have suggested that Croatia would rest players and take things easy on Kosovo, winning by just a couple of goals. However, because things are so tight at the top I am expecting them to want to improve their goal difference which will mean a pretty strong squad taking to the field.
I think it is going to be tough for Kosovo to defend against Croatia and ultimately they are going to lose the game by a few goals. Obviously the normal betting market gives us no value at all, so I am going to look at the handicap market in search of value.
The bet I am going to place is Croatia -4 on the handicap, meaning they have to win by five goals or more. This is available at 23/10 with Paddy Power and offers good value in a game I think we will see Croatia going all out to score as many goals as possible. If that is the approach they do take then I can see them covering the handicap. More betting tips on www.online-betting.org.