Our football match prediction:
Croatia dropped two points in 1-1 draw with Turkey at the start of their World Cup qualifying campaign. The Vatreni failed to impress in their opener, but they have been producing scintillating performances in Group I ever since. The former Yugoslav republic sit in top position in their qualifying group, but Ukraine are breathing down their neck. Ante Cacic is doing a good job with Croatia, but it is well known that he has a number of top-class players to choose from. Luka Modric is undisputedly the team’s biggest star and we predict that the Real Madrid midfielder will pose a big threat for the opposition back-line in Friday’s football match. The Ukrainians managed to keep a clean sheet in previous two qualifying games and they are likely to rely on their rock-solid defence against Croatia. Taking everything into account, a low-scoring affair appears on the horizon.
Highlighted Player (Nikola Kalinic):
Nikola Kalinic is a product of Hajduk Split’s youth school. The 187-cm-tall striker scored 32 goals in 59 appearances for Hajduk at senior level and he played for the likes of Pula and Sibenik in Croatia as well. In 2009 he moved to Blackburn Rovers for fee of £6 million. Nikola Kalinic made his Blackburn Rovers debut against Sunderland on 22 August, 2009 and he scored his first goal for the Riversiders against Peterborough United in the League Cup. After making 44 league appearances for Blackburn Rovers, the Croatian attacker joined Dnipro in 2011 and he played for the Ukrainian outfit until 2015. Kalinic signed a four-year deal with Fiorentina on 15 August, 2015 and he impressed in the 2015/2016 Serie A campaign, scoring 12 goals in 36 games. The Fiorentina striker made two appearances for Croatia at the 2016 European Championship in France and it has to be noted that he found the net in a 2-1 win over Spain in the group stages of the competition.
Highlighted Team (Ukraine):
After the country had gained independence from the Soviet Union, Ukraine played their first international match in 1992, and they have come a long way since. Zbirna have only once played at the World Cup finals so far, and they did really well to reach the quarter-finals in 2006, while they co-hosted the Euro 2012 with Poland, albeit failing to get past the group stage. The generation that secured qualification for the Euro 2016 finals in France is arguably the most talented ever, with Yevhen Konoplyanka, Andriy Yarmolenko, Ruslan Rotan and Roman Zozulya the leading players, but plenty more talent present in Mikhail Fomenko’s squad. Similar to the trademark style of former Soviet teams, Ukraine bases their tactics on rock-solid defence and swift counter-attacks, but it has to be noted that Zbirna possess a lot more technical skills and attacking potential than most other former Russian republics. Everything suggests that the most successful period in the history of the national team is ahead of them.