Portugal v Croatia
Betting suggestion: Portugal -0,5 at 1,95 Pinnacle
Preview: Latest reports about Cristiano are saying that the Portuguese superstar most likely won’t feature in this match against Croatia, due to the foot infection. Don’t get me wrong, but I honestly don’t see any bigger problems with this information as that means we will probably see Felix in the attack, supported by Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes. With Moutinho, Pereira, and Andre Silva, Portuguese manager Fernando Santos has a very good midfield available. There are also Lille’s Renato Sanches who’s doing great in Ligue 1, Andre Gomes. He also has very solid options in defense, and in the goal, and Portugal is one of the nations that will be interesting to watch in upcoming years, even though Cristiano probably won’t be part of it for too long. Croatia on the other side is coming in this match without two stars – Rakitic and Modric, but their manager Dalic still has very solid options in Chelsea’s Kovacic and Inter’s Brozovic. With Perisic, Pasalic (Vlasic?), Rebic, and most likely Petkovic in the role of number 9, we can be sure that Croatia will play offensively, but I think that they aren’t as good defensively and that the backline – expected are Jedvaj, Vida, Lovren, Barisic, and Livakovic in the goal, won’t be enough to hold back Portuguese attacks. Even though we have some experienced midfielders on both sides, I think Portugal should win the battle in midfield – both, technically and physically while the defense will have huge problems with the fluidity of already mentioned Felix, Bruno and Bernardo. It’s possible that Santos lines up a different “front three”, position Bruno a bit lower in midfield, and sets a place for Guedes on the left-wing. Anyways, I think that in the given situation, Portugal looks a bit better, regardless of the fact if Cristiano will be able to play or not.
* odds on Portugal might jump up slightly when official line-ups come out if Cristiano won’t be in the starting lineup.
Slovenia v Greece
Betting suggestion: Greece +0 at 2,06
Preview: These two sides have played against each other 5 times so far – 2 draws, 3 wins of Greece with the goal difference 3:11 in favor of Greece. The match will be played in Slovenia, but without fans, therefore, there will be almost no “home advantage” and that’s why I see the chances of Slovenia even smaller… Another reason is that due to different reasons there has been plenty of changes in the squad of Slovenia and the manager Kek will have to find the way without some key players Ilicic, Verbic, Krhin, Beric, Jokic, Kurtic who were mostly replaced by players from the domestic league. Schip, the manager of Greece on the other side is using plenty of players that play in Greece as well, but there is a solid difference between the Slovenian and Greek league. Both sides played some decent matches recently – Slovenia won against Poland and Israel at home, but ruined their chances for Euro with the defeat in Northern Macedonia (2-1). After that, they lost against Austria (0-1) and Poland (3-2) and won against Latvia at home (1-0). Greece on the other side finished on the 3rd place in the group, which was quite an achievement as they’ve lost 5 of the first 8 matches. The only win was against Lichtenstein away, while they drew with the same team at home. Van ‘t Schip didn’t take over the national team of Greece in best conditions as the association decided to fire Anastasiadis after the home defeat against Armenia (2-3). After that, they lost with Finland away, drew with Lichtenstein at home, lost away in Italy, and then finally started with positive results. Everything somehow started with the 2-1 win against Bosnia & Herzegovina, then Armenia away (0-1) and Finland at home (2-1). Therefore this group, led by Dutch manager Schip got some positive energy and will be looking to continue that way in the match against pretty much weakened Slovenia. All in all, I think that both sides will start with 4231 formation, even though there are some chances that we see Slovenia more in a traditional 442. Without Ilicic and Verbic, I expect Slovenia to struggle offensively and therefore the result will most likely depend much more on the daily form of Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
*I suggest taking matches with very careful stakes as that will be the first national match after a long long period…