It’s perhaps poetic that England’s first major tournament game for 3 years since World Cup semi-final heartache comes against the same opponents.
Whilst Croatia do not represent the same force that trumped England in July 2018, this match still represents a tough start to the group stages for Gareth Southgate’s men and should not be taken lightly.
England come in to the match as 4/6 favourites to win the game which seems a fair price, so to get some better value on the contest it’s best to seek out a bet builder opportunity.
Get 30/1 Harry Kane to have a shot on target
The first element of the bet is under 4 match goals.
It’s forecasted to be up to 28 degrees in London on Sunday – a proper shorts day! The hot weather, teamed with this being the opening game for both sides, may make this quite a cagey affair and one that at the very least, neither will want to lose.
England’s set-up is quite passive relative to the quality that they have in the squad, Southgate perhaps guarding against a perceived weakness in defence – the poor Nations League campaign proving just as much. In fact, 11 of England’s last 13 games have seen less than 4 goals, with one of the two to go above against minnows San Marino.
Croatia, despite their immense talent in the middle of the park, lack a real potency up front since Mario Mandžukić’s retirement so I’m not expecting a classic. In the heat, this could be a low tempo affair which is a common trait of England’s first matches at tournaments over the years.
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The second part of the bet builder is over 1 cards in the match for the away side.
England have got plenty of players, particularly in forward areas, that can draw in the fouls as we’ve seen in the warm-up friendlies.
Therefore, no matter who lines up in the first eleven on Sunday, I’d expect card-happy ref Daniele Orsato from Italy to be a busy man.
Croatia have been given two or more cards in each of their last THIRTEEN competitive matches, so this seems like a no-brainer to include to boost the odds.
The final part of the 13/8 bet is over 16.5 throw-ins in the match for England. In Croatia’s last 14 matches, they have conceded 17.1 throw-ins per match which is relatively high for a team of their calibre. In the three matches against England in recent years (World Cup semi-final and two Nations League games), that average rises to over 24 having conceded 31 in their last trip to Wembley.
England play with plenty of width under Southgate so I’d expect see a fair bit of the ball being knocked out of play by Croatia to stop England advances, the latter having won 17 or more throw-ins in 3 of their last 4 games on the Wembley turf.
2.5 units – Under 4 goals in the match, Over 1 cards in the match for Croatia & Over 16.5 throw-ins in the match for England @ 13/8 with Bet365