On paper, Friday night’s friendly between Croatia and Estonia is a home banker and the Vatreni are huge favourites with bwin at football betting odds of 1/5.
The Croats are currently ranked eighth in FIFA’s world rankings – ahead of Argentina, Italy and France – and they will take this match very seriously as they bid to build up a head of steam before their Euro 2012 opener against the Republic of Ireland on June 10th.
Veteran defender Josip Simunic certainly believes his side will need to hit the ground running to progress in the tournament.
“The first match against Ireland is our priority. Should we win, we can get wings and make it to the quarter-finals, which would be an amazing result,” the Irish Herald reports him as saying.
The visit of Estonia will also be crucial for many players to gain match sharpness – an issue that Bilic has been all too conscious of in his previewing of the tournament.
Estonia have a poor recent record in international friendlies, losing four of their last five and only defeating El Salvador in that time.
While star players Darijo Srna and Luka Modric have both played regularly for their club sides this season, other regular starters including Vedran Corluka and Niko Krancjar have been only peripheral figures.
As Bilic lamented in a recent interview with Goal.com: “We have a very strange situation and not many teams have a situation like us … some of the players aren’t getting much game time.
“Eight or nine have only started five or six matches this season – it’s far from ideal.”
Estonia should make good opposition as they too could have been preparing for Euro 2012 had it not been for a play-off defeat to Ireland.
However, the Sinisärgid have a poor recent record in international friendlies, losing four of their last five and only defeating El Salvador in that time.
This perhaps explains why they are at a whopping 27/2 in bwin’s 3Way football betting market, while the draw is also at a lengthy-looking 5/1.
With that in mind, a comfortable home win should be the sensible bet for this match and at odds of 11/2, a 3-0 triumph looks to offer decent value for a small punt.
Any new customers using their free £25 bet for registering with bwin could expect returns of £162.50 for Croatia to get their preparations off to a good start with three unanswered goals.
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Eight or nine have only started five or six matches this season – it’s far from ideal.