Croatia take on Scotland at Hampden Park in a 8pm kick-off on Tuesday.
With both nations on only one point heading into the weekend, it is a must win for both in order to progress to the last-16 of the tournament.
Scotland were much improved to claim a 0-0 draw against England at Wembley on Friday, showing defensive doggedness alongside decent quality in possession.
Croatia improved after the break to claim a 1-1 draw against Czech Republic earlier that day, meanwhile, with Bruno Petkovic looking a more suitable striker than Ante Rebic.
Croatia are marginal 11/8 favourites to win this match, with the draw 11/4 and a Scotland win 7/4.
It’s a tough one to call this one, for sure, and a highly intriguing clash.
Home advantage should help Scotland, but the absence of Billy Gilmour, who made such a difference in midfield against the Three Lions, after the Chelsea midfielder’s positive coronavirus test will hurt them.
Croatia have far more big game experience on their side and I’d probably have them a touch shorter, but equally they’ve been far from convincing so far and look beatable.
I’ll stay away from the match result market, then, and instead back cards and corners in a must win match for both teams.
Croatia have received four cards in two matches, with Scotland receiving two against England last time out, so I’m happy to back both teams to receive a card.
Argentinian referee Fernando Rapallini averaged over 7 cards in his homeland last season and showed three cards and two penalties in the Ukraine v North Macedonia match last week, so I’ll also back Over 2 Cards for Both Teams Combined.
5+ corners each team has landed in both of Scotland’s matches so far, meanwhile, with 4+ each team landing in Croatia’s draw against Czech Rep. I’ll back 3+ corners for each as both have to go for it.
On that note, if you want a longshot, 2+ cards each team and 5+ corners each team is 10/1 (Paddy Power). Providing the game stays 0-0 for a decent length of time, which is certainly possible given these two sides’ struggles in front of goal at this tournament, this has legs for sure.
Another odds-against Bet Builder I am backing is Over 11.5 Shots for Scotland & Over 5.5 Goal Kicks for Croatia at 21/20 (bet365).
This was one Scotland shot against England away from landing in both of the Tartan Army’s matches so far, so unless they score early, it’s surely got a great chance of doing so again.
Croatia defender Domagoj Vida is definitely my main fancy to be carded at 18/5 (Bet Victor). He received three cards in qualifying – as well as two in recent World Cup qualifiers – but has stayed out of trouble thus far. I don’t see that lasting, especially with Che Adams and Lyndon Dykes likely to cause him and Dejan Loven plenty of trouble.
Ivan Perisic’s equaliser against Czech Rep was his eighth tournament goal for Croatia, meanwhile, so I’m surprised to see Sky Bet offering odds of 3/1 for him to score anytime here. (Betfair offer 18/1 on Perisic to score and Vida to be carded.)
Bet365’s odds on player cards look strangely generous in this match given the stakes (and the referee), with Andrew Robertson certainly catching my eye at 8/1. The Liverpool full-back has been fired up at this tournament; although rarely booked for his club, he did receive three in six Nations League games for his country last year.
Him and Sime Vrsaljko (11/2) have previous with their clubs and will be directly up against each other, making a 60/1 double look huge. Vrsaljko was lucky to escape a booking against Czech Rep after a running battle with Jakub Jankto against Czech Rep.
Callum McGregor (7/1) and Luka Modric (8/1) both just look too big for central midfielders, too. Neither are booked very often but McGregor has regularly shown a fiery side to his game in Old Firm matches, while Modric will likely have a tough time containing the pace and power of John McGinn, and may need to take one for the team given that Marcelo Brozovic and Matteo Kovacic have already been booked this tournament.
1+ card each team, 3+ cards & 3+ corners each team @ 21/20 (bet365)
Over 11.5 Shots for Scotland & Over 5.5 Goal Kicks for Croatia @ 21/20 (bet365)
2+ cards each team & 5+ corners each team @ 10/1 (See Paddy Power free bet)
Domagoj Vida to be carded @ 7/2 (bet365)
Robertson & Vrsaljko to be carded @ 60/1 (bet365)
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