Ghost Tipster has been handicapping for over five years now. He loves to research and provide data on your favourite soccer leagues to help you bet more successfully. Full bio here.
Canada’s first and only appearance at a World Cup finals ended with a group stage exit after three losses and zero goals in 1986. At the Qatar World Cup , Canada will want to change those statistics and give their home fans something to shout about. Croatia are an ageing roster that will allow Canada to create more chances than they did against Belgium - but they will have bags of big game experience.
During Canada’s World Cup qualifying campaign, they scored the most goals in their group averaging 1.60 goals a game showing they are an attack minded team. They also conceded the least number of goals with seven put past them in 14 games. The two forwards who will be key to beating Croatia’s defense are youngster Jonathon David and the clinical Cyle Larin. The pair will need to be on top of their game and be extremely lethal in front of goal if they are to get any points from Croatia.
Canada player to watch: Cyle Larin
Cyle Larin was pivotal in Canada’s qualification to the Qatar World Cup with 13 goals in just 978 minutes - an average of a goal every 75 minutes. A highlight of the campaign was his brace against difficult opponents Mexico to get three points for Canada and make their dreams of World Cup qualification a reality.
The Besiktas striker scored seven goals for his club in the 2021/22 season and will want to go down as the first player to score a World Cup goal for Canada. He currently holds the record for most goals scored for his nation with 24 international goals, making him a likely candidate to break Canada’s World Cup goal drought.
The former Orlando City striker was a sharpshooter in the MLS, scoring 43 goals in his three years in the USA. He transferred to Turkish side Besiktas and took a couple years to settle in. In the 2020/21 season, Larin proved his natural finishing ability by scoring 19 goals. If he can find his feet on the biggest stage of all, Canada has every chance of qualification from World Cup Group F.
Pic: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Croatia topped a close World Cup qualification group which had some tricky teams such as Russia and Slovakia. The side’s top goalscorer in qualifying was shared between three players who each netted just three times each. This could be worrying as it shows they do not have a main attacking threat. Ivan Perisic was one of those three scores and has had success in front of goal in major international tournaments before. Croatia have been entertaining to watch during their Nations League and the 2020 European Championships, with many ending in both teams scoring. This trend shows defensive problems that Canada can exploit.
The team surprised many in the 2018 World Cup where they reached the final. The game ended 4-2 to France in an entertaining final in which Croatia’s experienced side were overran by an energetic young French roster, but it was Croatia’s Luka Modric who won the Golden Ball for his excellent performances throughout the tournament. Four years later, the main spine of the team is still present in Modric, Perisic and Lovren. But this World Cup could prove a bridge too far for the ageing side due to the nation’s young players not developing into quality talents just yet.
Croatia player to watch: Luka Modric
Luka Modric has capped off another fantastic season with a fifth Champions League trophy to add to his honors. Modric, who is the oldest player in the Croatia team, is aging like a fine wine. The 36-year-old will be leading his nation to Qatar hopeful of going one further than their second placed finish in the 2018 World Cup. He may not be a top goalscorer, but the midfielder makes the team tick with his bags of experience and incredible passing range.
On an individual level, 2018 was a standout year for the Real Madrid star who won the Golden Ball award at the World Cup as well as the Balon D’or. As a player who has not scored more than six goals in an individual season, his ability to still win these awards shows the influence he has on the game. Modric dictates the tempo of play with his effortless passing and stamina whilst providing assists and creating chances. He is certainly a player to watch in Croatia’s World Cup games as he is one of the rare stars who makes the game look easy.
Pic: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports