Against All Odds
In 1998, Davor Suker and Croatia took the World Cup by storm. Suker ended up winning the Golden Boot with six goals, while the Blazers finished third after losing to France in the semifinals and defeating Netherlands in the third-place match.
After that, Croatia played in four more editions, but only in 2018, they made it out of the Group Stage. In fact, four years ago in Russia, they pulled off one of the biggest stunners in world cup odds history by going all the way into the Grand Finale. Let’s remember what happened.
Prior to the start of the 2018 WC, Argentina was the betting online favorite to win Group D. In fact, La Albiceleste was among the favorites to win the title. Well, Croatia crushed them 3-0 in the second fixture to send a clear message: we aren’t here to participate but to compete.
Prior to that, they defeated Nigeria 2-0. Finally, they suffered a bit more than expected but still ended up beating Iceland 2-1. The Blazers were one of three teams that won their three Group Stage matches.
During the Group Stage, Luka Modric led the way with two goals. His performance in Russia would end up being crucial for him to win the Ballon d’Or later that year.
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After winning their first three games, the Blazers couldn’t win a single game on the road to the Grand Finale, at least not in regular time.
First, they drew 1-1 to Denmark. They ended up winning 3-2 in penalties. Later, they drew 2-2 to the host. Once again, they won the penalty shootout (4-3). In the Semifinals, they drew 1-1 to England, but penalties weren’t needed as Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal in overtime. That’s right, the veteran striker sentenced the Three Lions to the third-place match with a goal in the 109th minute.
Modric didn’t score in any of those games, but he was crucial in creating chances. Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic took over the scoring duties, they even scored in the Grand Finale, but that wasn’t enough for them to win the title.
France returned to the Grand Finale for the first time since 2006 after winning Group C and eliminating Argentina, Uruguay, and Belgium. Unlike Croatia, Les Bleus won all their knock-out stage matches in regular time.
In the Grand Finale, Les Bleus went all-in right from the start, and they scored the opener in the 18th minute. Well, it was an own goal, but still. Nevertheless, Perisic scored the equalizer only 10 minutes later. Croatia was playing better, but France regained the advantage thanks to a penalty that Antoine Griezmann turned into a goal.
The Blazers couldn’t hold up in the second half, allowing France to score two more goals in a six-minute span. Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe scored the third and fourth goals respectively. Later, Mandzukic scored his third goal of the tourney, but it was too late.
Croatia in Qatar 2022
Despite finishing as the runners-up in 2018, the Blazers aren’t among the soccer betting favorites to win the title in world cup soccer 2022. In fact, they aren’t even favorites to win Group F, in which they’ll face Belgium, Canada, and Morocco.
The Red Devils dominate the Las Vegas odds thanks to a -190 price, while the Blazers are +250. According to the odds, they shouldn’t have too much trouble defeating Morocco (+1000) and Canada (+1200), but keep in mind that many consider Group F to be the Group of Death.
Modric (+6600), Ante Rebic (+12500), and Perisic (+15000) are among the candidates to win the Golden Boot. Forget about the prices, some teams don’t even have one player on the list.
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