Two in-form teams meet at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin tomorrow night when the Republic of Ireland take on Croatia.
Giovanni Trapattoni’s side have won five of their last six games, including a 2-0 victory over Italy, while Slaven Bilic’s men have a record of four wins and a draw from their last six matches.
This makes for a close 3Way football betting market, with Ireland slight underdogs at 33/20 to win, a draw priced at 11/5 and a Croatia victory available at 31/20.
It is the calibre of the players at Bilic’s disposal which gives Croatia the chance to inflict a rare defeat on their opponents.
Bilic has resisted the temptation to experiment, with all 24 members of his squad having been capped before.
Determined to rectify the mistakes which saw his side go down 1-0 to Georgia in a recent Euro 2012 qualifier, Bilic said he wants to play a “real man’s game” against Ireland rather than a meaningless friendly.
It is hoped that by doing so he can assess Croatia’s prospects for the rest of the campaign.
As such, the likes of Luka Modric, Ivica Olic, Eduardo da Silva and Niko Kranjcaer can be expected to feature.
Conversely, Trapattoni has been hit by a spate of withdrawals, with James McCarthy, Damien Delaney, Seamus Coleman, Keith Fahey, John O’Shea, Keith Andrews, Aiden McGeady, Kevin Doyle, Jon Walters and Marc Wilson all ruled out.
With this in mind, and given Croatia have scored at least twice in five of their last seven games, the best bet could be on the south-eastern Europeans to win 2-1 at odds of 19/2.
This bet also takes into account the fact that Ireland have been on good goalscoring form of late, bagging ten goals in their last four games.
A successful £25 free bet on Croatia to beat Ireland 2-1, available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account, would return £262.50.
However, those who think Ireland can overcome their personnel issues could bet on Trapattoni’s men to keep a clean sheet, with Croatia 19/10 to fail to score.
The Irish have not conceded since playing Uruguay at the end of March in a run lasting four matches.
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