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Croatia v Greece Betting: Tense first-half in Zagreb with World Cup place at stake

6:12 PM WAT 09/11/2017
Luka Modric Croatia European Qualifiers
The visitors will be set up to keep things extremely tight and we think that will lead to a goalless first half of this play-off first leg

Since making their tournament debut in 1998, Croatia have qualified for every World Cup bar one and they are clear favourites to beat Greece in this two-legged play-off to earn a place in Russia next summer. 

The 2004 European champions failed to qualify for Euro 2016 after finishing bottom of their group (behind the Faroe Islands, against whom they lost twice), yet their World Cup qualifying campaign saw a vast improvement as the side finished second in Group H behind a rampant Belgium side.

Betfair offer a home win in Zagreb at 4/9 (1.44), and in qualifying Zlatko Dalic's men were unbeaten at home with three wins and two draws.

Greece, for their part, are offered at 8/1 (9.00) with the draw at 11/4 (3.75) and Michael Skibbe's men would surely be happy with a stalemate particularly given some of their high profile absentees.

Star defender Kostas Manolas is suspended after FIFA ruled he deliberately got himself booked in the penultimate group game, while Stuttgart forward Tasos Donis and AEK Athens midfielder Petros Mantolas are both out injured.

Even with a fully available starting eleven, Skibbe would have approached the game cautiously, but without some key men, expect the visitors to revert to the highly defensive tactics which brought them success in the past.

The onus will therefore be on Croatia to break down the visitors and this could make for a low scoring game; indeed, under 2.5 goals is priced at 6/10 (1.60) but more appealing in the price of 7/5 (2.40) for a goalless first half.

In their two group games against free-scoring Belgium, the Greeks kept their opponents at bay until late in the game, while Croatia's last two home matches in their group were goalless at the break. Also of interest could be backing the first goal of the game to come in the second half, which is offered at the appealing price of 12/5 (3.40)

Under 0.5 goals first half at 7/5 (2.40) for a 2.5pt stake with Betfair