In World Cup betting there are known knowns; these are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. Nigeria falls, as far as Croatian head coach Zlatko Dalić is concerned, in the latter category (and don’t even get us started on unknown unknowns). “The Nigerians are an unknown team and we have to study them well,” Dalić said. Algeria and Dinamo Zagreb forward Hilal Soudani has happily taken on the role of Snow’s biggest hit (i.e., informer) and warned the Croatians to be super careful with the Super Eagles.
16 June 2018 21:00 KALT (UTC+2)
Croatia vs. Nigeria Report
Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad
Nigeria qualified undefeated from a group that included Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia. “I did not play in one game, but I watched the game on television and I can say Nigeria is an extremely powerful team. They are physically powerful, really powerful,” Soudani very insightfully said (except for the ‘insightful’ part). “Apart from that, they have a lot of players in big clubs and they didn’t lose a game in the qualifiers. They have Mikel Obi and Victor Moses who plays for Chelsea and other good players too. I think Croatia need to be careful. They beat Argentina 4-2 few weeks ago in a friendly match. Though you could say it was a friendly game, but it was a victory that points to Nigeria as a serious contender in the group.” The thing is of course that on any given day anyone can beat Argentina, regardless of World Cup betting odds.
But back to Croatia, The Blazers hope to repeat the success of the 1998 Golden Generation, which boasted Dario Šimić, Mario Stanić, Zvonimir Soldo, Robert Jarni, Robert Prosinečki, Zvonimir Boban, and Davor Šuker; names that probably mean nothing to people who enjoy betting on the World Cup but are under the age of 30. Notwithstanding that, these men finished in 3rd place in France ’98, Croatia’s best result in a World Cup. The national team’s current batch of talent includes captain Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic, Andrej Kramaric, and Ivan Perisic. Croatia almost didn’t make it to their fifth World Cup, but if they sustain the momentum they showed in the playoffs, they might just return to the knockout stage for the first time in two decades.
Nigeria is not short on promising talent, though. Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi, Henry Onyekuru and Moses Simon are all part of a team that became the first African nation to secure a spot in the 2018 World Cup, winning all their home dates with two draws and a victory on the road under German manager Gernot Rohr, a former Girondins Bordeaux midfielder who previously coached Burkina Faso, Gabon, and Niger. He hopes that the Super Eagles can leave their mark in Russian, especially after they beat Argentina 4-2 in a friendly in earlier this month, as mentioned above. And speaking of things mentioned above, there is the concern that Nigeria’s World Cup betting odds might be too dependent on the aforementioned Obi and Moses.