His form this season has put Gareth Bale among the ranks of the best players in the world and the Tottenham Hotspur star has the chance to prove how good he can be on the international stage when Croatia travel to Swansea.
The joint leaders of Group A are perennial World Cup contenders and Bale will need to be at the top of his game to take down a side led by the man he has replaced as Tottenham’s top player, Luka Modric.
Unfortunately for Welsh fans, Bale looked far from his best when limping off at half-time against Scotland but the winger is expected to be fit enough to take his place in the starting line up in Swansea.
Bale is key to the home team’s chances of pulling off an upset in a game they start as 4/1 underdogs with Igor Stimac’s side 13/20 favourites in 3Way betting, where draw looks best value at 11/4.
But Bale has been winning games single-handedly of late for both club and country, making decisive strikes in no less than 10 matches since the start of 2013.
He’s 17/10 to get back on the scoresheet after his goalless effort in Glasgow, but given his recent propensity for late goals against international opposition (just ask Lyon) the smarter play might be for last goal at 6/1.
Getting the final goal is likely to be necessary as Wales have an unfortunate habit of falling behind. They last opened the scoring way back in November 2011 and are 21/20 to again concede first against a Croatia side who have plenty more threats than Modric.
Mario Mandzukic has continued the form that earned him the Euro 2012 Golden Boot and is x/x to repeat his strike from the reverse fixture. Former Arsenal striker Eduardo was also on the scoresheet in that 2-0 victory, and is 17/10 to add to his 26 international goals.
As their comeback against Scotland showed, Wales are also far from a one-man team and Coleman’s frontline full of Champions League experience in Bale, Craig Bellamy and Joe Ledley can cause enough problems to make evens a good price for both teams.
While I don’t think Wales can claim another come-from-behind win against opponents of Croatia’s class, their newfound resilience combined with some Bale brilliance can earn them a point; and earn new customers using the £20 free bet they receive when registering with bwin £340 for backing Croatia/draw at half-time/full-time.