- Croatia v Belgium
- Thursday, December 1, 2022, 10:00 ET
- At the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Belgium is a narrow favorite to win this game against Croatia, but it is overrated based on what we have seen so far in this tournament.
Who do Bettors Favor?
According to the best-rated online sportsbooks we can see that bookies and bettors are finding it hard to separate the two teams ahead of this crucial Group F game. Belgium is the narrow favorite, being priced at around +160 across the books, while Croatia is close behind at between +171 and +184, and the draw is available at around +240.
|Croatia v Belgium|
World Cup Group F Betting Briefing
When the draw for Group F was made, the assumption was that Belgium would win the Group, while Croatia and Morocco would fight it out for second and Canada would be the bottom team.
While Canada is indeed bottom of the Group, Belgium is second last, while Croatia and Morocco are fighting out the status of Group winner. Belgium’s poor performances have turned the predictions upside down and going into this game it is far from certain that the Belgian players can rescue the situation.
For Croatia, the calculation is simple. A win or draw in this game takes the 2018 runners up through to the knock out stages, regardless of what happens in the Morocco v Canada game. Belgium, on the other hand has to win this game or be knocked out of the tournament.
Beyond Group F, it isn’t yet clear who the prospective Round of 16 opponents would be. All four teams from Group E could yet qualify and both managers will want their players fully focused on this game.
Croatia Hitting Form
Croatia has a habit of making a slow start in major tournaments and this was in evidence again in Qatar as it struggled to a 0-0 draw with Morocco to start the Group.
With hindsight, however, that result doesn’t look bad, and in the next game against Canada, the Croatian players hit form in spectacular style, winning 4-1 having trailed after just two minutes of the game. That victory meant Croatia topped the Group, but defeat to Belgium could well mean an early exit.
Replacement striker Marko Livaja scored a great goal against Canada so may start in this game, which would mean Andrej Kramaric playing on the right. Otherwise, Croatia appears to be at full strength, with that midfield trio of Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Matteo Kovacic being the key to their success.
The Croatian midfielders will relish the opportunity to take on a Belgian midfield that has looked short of energy and ideas in two games so far, and at full strength, Croatia will take some stopping.
Belgium Facing Last Chance
With just one, slightly fortunate, win over Canada to its name, Belgium is staring a World Cup exit in the face, and this is the last chance for Roberto Martinez’s team, and for many individual players.
Some of the Belgian Golden Generation are likely to be playing in their last World Cup and based on what we’ve seen so far, what promised to be a glorious era for Belgian football could be coming to an ignoble conclusion on world soccer’s biggest stage.
Against Canada, Belgium was sluggish and fortunate to come away with a win against an opponent which created chances but lacked composure in front of goal. But Belgium were not reprieved for long. Against an energetic and enterprising Morocco, Martinez’s players offered very little. Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard looked heavy-legged and low on inspiration and the defeat was merited.
Romelu Lukaku could be fit enough to start this game, and it would be a surprise if he didn’t, given the lack of cutting edge that Belgium has had so far up front. Unfortunately, his return to the starting XI coincides with Belgium’s toughest game, against an experienced and hardened Croatian defence.
World Cup Group F Match Betting
Does Martinez have one last surprise in store? Can he find a way to motivate a group of players that looks thoroughly jaded? It shouldn’t be necessary, of course, given the caliber of the Belgian squad, but the team needs to change something or it will be going out of the tournament.
As a soccer bettor, fortunately, you don’t have to answer those questions because in this case, the market tells us all we need to know. There is no way, based on current form, that Belgium should be favorites for this game. Belgium will have to go for the win, which means Croatia will have space to operate and is the clear betting pick for this match.