By:
Steven Paget
12/01/2022
World Cup Predictions
Croatia Vs Belgium - World Cup 2022

Two European heavyweights go head to head in Group F on matchday three as the runners-up from four years ago go toe to toe with the team who came third. But while many would have been guilty of assuming this would be a game to decide who finishes first and second in the group, the reality is that defeat for either side here will most likely lead to an early exit from the competition.

Belgium have been hugely disappointing in the competition so far, and even a draw here might not be enough for Roberto Martinez’s side after losing to Morocco in their second game. In truth, Belgium look like a team who are past their best. Yet this is the number two ranked side in the world by FIFA, lest we forget, and Belgium were well among the favourites in terms of the World Cup betting odds. The reality is, Belgium success in this tournament looks a long shot. Croatia are also a vastly experienced side, but have legs in key positions which means their blend of experience looks slightly better balanced.

So what will happen here then? Well, while the likes of 22bet had Belgium as firm favourites for this game just a few days ago, but those odds have somewhat changed and a win for either side is returning around the same odds. Indeed, our betting tip is for this game to end in a draw – a result which may well leave Belgium looking at an early flight home.

Croatia Vs Belgium Best Odds

Croatia Vs Belgium Betting Tips

There is so much stake in this game – indeed it could be a case of winner takes all depending on what happens in the other game in this group between Canada and Morocco. A Morocco win there will mean defeat for either team here will mean an early trip home, something that would have been unthought of just a matter of days ago. With this, then, in essence a knockout game, expect a cagey first 45.

FIRST HALF UNDER 1.5 GOALS

Despite boasting plenty of attacking talent, it’s doubtful that the second half will open up that much in terms of goals. Indeed, the last time these two met in a friendly a year ago, the match ended 1-0 courtesy of a Romelu Lukaku goal. Something similar is likely to occur here, with both teams desperate not to lose, and Belgium really needing to be the ones pushing for a win.

UNDER 2.5 GOALS

In a game of fine margins, a mistake or an individual piece of skill could settle things. Both of these two sides have the players to pick a lock at any stage, with Croatia’s Luka Modric and Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne the most likely candidates. Modric is still a class act as he reaches the final stages of career, and De Bruyne is in his pomp. The Manchester City man has been in fine form this season, but he doesn’t look as happy playing in this aging Belgium team. We’re liking the odds bookmakers such as Bwin are offering on a draw here, a result that will probably see Belgium sent packing.

THE MATCH TO END IN A DRAW

Croatia Vs Belgium Analysis

Croatia

This is an aging Croatia team, but a team that just keeps on getting results. Indeed, many might have expected this team to have peaked after reaching the final four years ago, and a disappointing European Champions did nothing to dispel that feeling. And yet Croatia topped their qualifying group for this tournament, and then won their Nations League group to advance to the last four. This is a squad of players that just keep on doing it, and will surely put on another good showing in Qatar. 

Key Player/s: Despite being 37, Luka Modric is still a class act for both Croatia and Real Madrid. Expect the midfielder to set the tempo for his side. But the Croats have plenty of match winners, with Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic and Inter’s Marcelo Brozovic two likely candidates to turn a game in their side’s favour. 

Team news: Coach Zlatko Dalic has a fully fit squad to choose from heading into this game.    

Predicted Lineup: Livakovic, Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa, Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic, Livaja, Kramaric, Perisic

Belgium

Much has been made of this Belgian golden generation, but so far, this era of talent have very little to show for all the hype. Of course, semi-final appearances at major championships are nothing to be sniffed at, but this is a Belgium squad that has been ranked either first or second in the world for a long time now. The talent remains, but the likes of Eden Hazard are arguably past their best, while there are injury concerns surrounding star striker Romelu Lukaku. But there is still seemingly an incredible pool of talent for coach Roberto Martinez to select from, but the time for this side could have gone. 

Key Player/s: This Belgian side is bursting with talent, but the star man remains Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne. Inter’s Romelu Lukaku is another on whom much depends, but the big striker is only just back from injury.

Team news: Coach Roberto Martinez will be sweating on the fitness of striker Romelu Lukaku in this must-win game for his side. Lukkaku may feature on the team sheet, but is he ‘match fit’?   

Predicted Lineup: Coutois, Debast, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Meunier, Witsel, Tielemans, Carrasco, Hazard, De Bruyne, Lukaku

Croatia Vs Belgium Prediction

This game should be a cracker between two sides who could end up on the plane home with defeat here. Tensions will run high, and chances may be at a premium. With so much at stake, and a draw good enough for Croatia, that’s what we’re backing here. Belgium look past their best.

The match to end in a draw