The second round of Nations League fixtures throws up a re-run of the 2018 World Cup final, as France take on Croatia at the Stade de France on Tuesday night. Can the visitors exact a small measure of revenge for that heartbreak in Russia, or will Les Bleus flex their muscles against the Blazers once again?
Where and when: Stade de France – 8 September, kick-off 19:45
Where you can see France vs. Croatia: Sky Sports
Last time: France defeated Croatia 4-2 at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium in the final of the 2018 World Cup. Ivan Perisic got the Vatreni back on level terms after Mario Mandzukic’s early own goal, but strikes from Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe saw Les Bleus streak into a commanding lead which they never relinquished.
France v Croatia Predictions and Preview
The scars from that stormy day in July 2018 will never truly heal for Croatia, and this game is sure to stir up some painful memories for the majority of their squad. Whether that serves to demoralise or motivate the Croatian players remains to be seen, but whichever way that pans out, France will still start as the betting favourites for this game.
Les Blues are 4/5 to win the match, as they look to extend their unbeaten record against Croatia. Since the countries first met at the 1998 World Cup, France have won four of their six clashes, with draws in the other two. Both teams have scored in each of the three competitive fixtures between the countries, which have produced 13 goals at an average of 4.3 per game.
More recently, France qualified for the now-postponed Euro 2020 on the back of eight wins, one draw and one loss from their 10 fixtures, with the sole defeat coming away to Turkey. Croatia also lost one qualifying match, away to Hungary, but still topped their group after five wins and two draws from their eight games.
|Our Eurotips||Odds||Free bets||Bookie|
France to win and BTTS
France to win 3-1
France to win and over 3.5 goals
Prior to the start of this Nations League campaign, Croatia only won eight of their 16 fixtures following the World Cup final defeat to France. The likes of Mario Mandzukic have retired, while creative midfield duo Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been left out of this latest squad in order to have a break before the start of the new domestic campaign.
France, on the other hand, have won 12 of their 17 games since their World Cup triumph, and have such strength in depth that the likes of Benjamin Pavard, Thomas Lemar, Corentin Tolisso, Blaise Matuidi and Kingsley Coman have all been overlooked for this squad. Paul Pogba may have withdrawn due to a positive coronavirus test, but Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Anthony Martial provide some serious firepower up top.
Croatia look a lot more lightweight in the final third, even if in-form Ivan Perisic will be a real threat from the wing. With that in mind, the Vatreni are the 15/4 underdogs to take the win on Tuesday, with the draw in this game available at 13/5.
One to watch for France: Anthony Martial ended the season in superb form for Manchester United. He looked electric during the Red Devils’ run-in, and even if he may not start this game, he should get some minutes. He’s worth a look in the anytime or last goalscorer markets.
One to watch for Croatia: Ivan Perisic has also been in excellent form this season, despite starting Bayern Munich’s recent Champions League final victory over Paris Saint-Germain on the bench. The veteran bagged in the World Cup final two years ago and could be interesting to score anytime here.
Long shot: France’s last two victories over Croatia have both been by exactly two goals, with a repeat of that outcome on Tuesday priced at 4/1. A 3-1 win for Les Bleus is available at 14/1, while you could bump up your odds significantly by adding Antoine Griezmann to that bet as the first goalscorer.