Our football match prediction:
As expected, Croatia rolled over Greece in the first leg of the 2018 World Cup play-offs. Luka Modric and Co. crushed the Greeks 4-1, thus they are with one foot at the next year’s showpiece tournament in Russia. Juventus attacker Mario Mandzukic missed the first leg with injury, but he should recover in time to face Greece in Athens. Kostas Manolas returns from suspension for the hosts and he should surely help Michael Skibbe’s men improve their game. Croatia are likely to adopt cautious approach in Sunday’s football game and seeing that they would be happy with sharing the spoils, we predict that the two teams are going to play out a draw at Stadio Georgios Karaiskaki. Greece have nothing to lose in the return leg, but given the quality of the away team, we are not tempted to put our money on Michael Skibbe’s team this time out.
Highligted Player (Andreas Samaris):
Greece international midfielder Andreas Samaris began his career playing for Panachaiki before his spells with Panionios and Olympiakos. Benfica is the first international experience for the 27-year-old player who arrived in Portugal in 2014. A full international since 2013, Samaris represented Greece at the 2014 FIFA World Cup during which he managed to make his presence known and earn a move abroad. Andreas Samaris operates as a central midfield but is capable of filling in defensive midfielder role. Greek international was the mainstay for Benfica during his first two seasons at the club managing 46 Primeira Liga appearances during the period. He also added 12 Champions League appearances. Andreas Samaras helped Benfica win two Primeira Liga titles, two Taca da Liga trophies and one Super Cup. Greek international was the regular performer for his national team during the unsuccessful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with ten games to his name.
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.