Our football match prediction:
Buoyed by a thrilling 6-0 win over Kosovo Croatia take on Finland in their third group game in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. The Croats impressed in Thursday’s football match and they will be looking retain top position in Group I with a triumph over Finland at Ratinan Stadion. The Finns dropped three points in the clash against Iceland, with the team conceding two goals in their first away fixture in the World Cup qualifiers. Finland are desperate to grab something from Sunday’s game against Croatia and there is every chance the hosts will adopt an attack-minded approach this time out. Mario Mandzukic scored a hat-trick in the 6-0 win over Kosovo and all eyes will be on the Juventus forward when the two teams take on each other in Tampere. Finland and Croatia meet for the first time ever in a competitive match and, taking everything into account, we predict that the in-form Croats will defeat the Finns, who head into the game with the lack of confidence.
Highlighted Player (Niki Maenpaa):
Niki Maenpaa played for the likes of Kasiysi and HJK during his youth career and in 2003 he joined RC Lens II. The Goalkeeper who was born on 23 January 1985 in Espoo, Finland made 17 appearances for Lens II and in 2006 he signed a contract with Dutch side FC Den Bosch. Niki Maenpaa made 67 league appearances for Den Bosch until 2009 and then he joined Willem II on a free transfer. After playing 18 matches for the club (league) he joined AZ Alkmaar in October, 2011, but he was a third-choice goalkeeper in the 2011/2012 Eredivisie campaign. Maenpaa was eager to leave the club at the end of the season and he turned his dream into reality on 29 May, 2012 as he signed a three-year deal with VVV-Venlo. After his contract with Venlo expired Niki Maenpaa joined Brighton in July, 2015 on a free transfer. The goalkeeper made his Finland debut on 2 June 2008 in a friendly match against Belarus. Maenpaa made three appearances for the Finnish national team in the 2016 World Cup qualifiers.
Highlighted Team (Croatia):
While the national football team of Croatia also played international matches between 1940 and 1944, they only resumed their duties in 1990 after the country gained independence from Yugoslavia. Vatreni enjoyed a remarkable start on the international stage, winning the third place on their first ever World Cup appearance in France in 1998, while crashing out in the group stage at the 2002, 2006 and 2014 tournaments. Croatia also reached the quarter-finals at the 1996 and 2008 European Championships, proving they are rightly considered one of Europe’s top sides at the start of the 21st century. Long-serving captain Darijo Srna is their most capped player with over 130 appearances for the national team, whereas former Real Madrid striker Davor Suker is one of their most famous players and top scorer with 45 goals. Other notable footballers to have played for Croatia include Luka Modric, Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinecki, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic. Miroslav Blazevic and Slaven Bilic are the coaches that have been behind team’s biggest success stories up to date.