After avoiding defeat to Slovakia on Thursday, in a match where Ryan Giggs men will be disappointed not to have taken all three points, their hopes of qualifying aren’t over. They welcome group leaders Croatia to the Cardiff City Stadium with confidence running high after a great team performance in Bratislava.
Wales really impressed on Thursday and will be looking to keep up their level of performance in this crunch time with Croatia. Three points would be incredible for the Welsh and they’ll be raring to go in front of their home fans for this one. With two wins out of two at home for the Welsh against Slovakia 1-0 & Azerbaijan 2-1, this one really could be a cracker in what could prove to be Wales chance of taking hold of the second qualifying spot.
The previous meeting between these two teams in this qualifying campaign was a fairly edgy 2-1 victory for the Croatians, in a match which really could have gone either way. Wales have looked shaky especially on their travels this campaign, but Ryan Giggs men will be well up for this one, knowing a win could take them back into the qualifying spots. If the ex-Manchester United legend is to get this team to the Euro’s in 2020, he needs to understand how to get goals out of his team. The Euro 2016 Semi-Finalists have only scored 5 goals thus far in qualifying (the same amount as lonely bottom-placed Azerbaijan) and with the likes of Gareth Bale & Dan James in the squad, that’s quite hard to believe.
It’s hard to overlook the Croatians, as they were runners up in the World Cup last summer and that demands respect, but they’ve looked very shaky so far in qualifying. An impressive 3-0 victory over Hungary on Thursday seems to have steadied the ship for them, especially after dropping points to both Azerbaijan and Hungary on their travels. One thing that Wales will be looking to exploit is their shaky defence, as Wales have the pace and creativity to really hurt them.
The arrival of Kieffer Moore onto the International stage couldn’t have come at a better time for the Welsh, the 6ft 5 Wigan striker was incredible against Slovakia. His goal and all-round centre forward play caused a lot of problems for Slovaks and that’s got to be a target of Wales play on Sunday.
From what I’ve seen Harry Wilson is expected to slot back into his place in the three playing behind Moore alongside Gareth Bale and Dan James. If the Welsh are to have any success those front four really need to perform, given the pace on show, you’d expect them to cause an immobile Croatian defence plenty of problems.
Another star performer from midweek was RB Leipzig (on-loan from Chelsea) Ethan Amapdu, the midfielder was everywhere on Thursday and he will be crucial come Sunday. He’s more than likely going to be tasked alongside Joe Allen with marshalling Ballon D’or winner Luka Modric and Barcelona playmaker Ivan Rakitic. Shut them down and Croatia lose most of their creative flair.
The Croatians seemingly breezed past Hungary and I can’t see the team changing much, they asserted their dominance from early on and the Hungarians had no answer for their flowing attack. As I’ve said with the likes of Modric & Rakitic dictating the match, the chances mostly flow through them. However, wingers Ivan Perisic & Ante Rebic were looking their dangerous best on Thrusday, so Giggs will definitely have kept note on both avenues of attack.
Dejan Lovren & Domagoj Vida are expected to start and they’re in for some aerial battles with Kieffer Moore posing a threat for any battles throughout the match. Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozovic will need to provide plenty of support for the defence as Wales front four will always be looking to get on the front foot.
If Wales can get out of the blocks fast here, they’ll really cause Croatia plenty of problems. As I’ve said the Welsh camp will be full of confidence after a positive result in Bratislava and I’m getting behind another positive result here. You can get Wales Draw No Bet @ 2.10 and I think that’s a great price considering their home form and Croatia’s frailties on the road.
Another bet I’m liking the look of is Kieffer Moore to score anytime, Thursday’s debutant was a handful for Slovakia’s defence and probably should have had more than one, with a header bouncing back off the crossbar highlighting the chances he was getting. You can get the Welshman to score anytime @ 3.75 and given the quality of crosses and chances he’s likely to get, this looks a great price to me.