Croatia vs Portugal
Euro 2016 – Round of 16
Date: Saturday, June 25, 2016,
Kick-off: 20:00 UK Time
Venue: Stade Bollaert-Delelis (Lens).
A win-less Portugal somehow managed to sneak into the knock-out round and will be facing a strong and confident Croatia in the Euro 2016 Round of 16 at the on Saturday night.
Croatia defy the odds by beating Spain 2-1 in their final group game to finish as Group D winners. The Croats lined up with a number of fringe players on the night, but always looked strong and organized and played the defending European Champions off the park. Croatia are unbeaten in their group with 2 wins and a draw and they do not want the repeat of the performance against Czech Republic, where they surrendered the two goal lead in a space of 20 minutes.
The humpty-dumpty Portugal finished third in their group after held to draws in each of their three games so far. They must consider themselves lucky to have got a point in the 3-3 draw against Hungary and head coach Fernando Santo doesn’t seem to know how to get his team organized at the moment. Their defense were all over the park and Hungary should have scored much more. The only positive for them is the performance of Ronaldo, who found the back of the net twice in their last group game, after firing blanks in the previous two.
Croatia Team News:
Luka Modric is injured after picking up a knock in Croatia’s 2-2 draw against Czech Republic and is expected to miss the crucial knock-out round tie against Portugal. The 20-year old Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Marko Rog is expected to deputize the tireless Milan Badelj in the heart of defense.
Their star hitman Mario Mandzukic is also carrying a knock, but is hopeful that he regain match fitness in time to the start the match on Saturday.
Croatia: Predicted line up (4-2-3-1)
Subasic – Srna, Corluka, Vida, Strinic – Badelji, Rog – Perisic, Brozovic, Rakitic – Mandzukic.
Portugal Team News:
Portugal are sweating on the fitness of midfielder Andre Gomes and full back Raphael Gurreiro, and both are big doubts for Saturday’s knockout tie.
The biggest worry for Fernando Santos is their defense and changes are expected to counter specific threats from Croatia.
We expect Santos to deploy the 4-4-2 formation with Nani supporting Cristiano Ronaldo in the attacking front.
Portugal: Predicted Line-up (4-4-2)
Rui Patricio – Eliseu, Pepe, Carvalho, Vieirinha – Mario, Sanches, Moutinho, Gomes – Quaresma – Nani, Ronaldo.
Croatia vs Portugal: Head-to-Head Stats
Portugal pose a 100% win record in the three matches played against Croatia so far.
The teams had previously met at the European Championships once, during the 1996 edition in England, which was also their first ever official meeting. Portugal rushed to a 3-0 victory at the Nottingham City Ground, courtesy of goals from Luis Figo, Joao Pinto and Domingos Paciencia.
The next two meetings were in friendlies in 2005 and 2013, Portugal won both by 2-0 and 1-0 respectively, maintaining a clean sheet in all the three meetings against Croatia so far.
Croatia vs Portugal: Prediction
Portugal are a pretty inconsistent team and their one-dimensional style of play makes it easy for opposition coaches to build strategies against them. Ronaldo might have finally broke his barren run of goals in the tournament by netting twice against Hungary. His free kicks are rather becoming and embarrassment and he can be often found shooting without any conviction in open play.
Croatia are a team build on the back of a strong midfield and their extremely organized midfield will be very hard to break down. The two players that stand out from the rest is Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic and Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic. Mario Mandzukic may not score goals, but he works extremely hard to hold on to the ball and bring the attacking midfielders and wingers into perfect positions to build dangerous attacks. The absence of Luka Modric is a big blow, but they might not have any big problems in cancelling out an ineffective Portuguese midfield.
Croatia have never won against Portugal in three meetings and also failed to score in each of them. This is a tournament of unpredictability and we expect Croatia to break their win-less run against Portugal on Saturday’s round of 16 clash.
Full Time Score Prediction: Croatia 1-0 Portugal.
- Croatia to win at FT.
- Over 10.5 Corners.