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Croatia World Cup 2014 betting: odds to win, Group A predictions

Croatia, boasting the second best Group A odds, opens against host Brazil. After that, they are favored to win and advance to World Cup 2014's Round of 16.

Alex Grimm

Croatia has been a giant killer in the past, but can they do so this summer?

They are not in the toughest group, but not in the easiest either and in their opening match facing host Brazil they will be without their main striker in the suspended Mario Mandzukic.

Still Croatia has the second-best betting odds to win their group and they have a solid midfield led by Real Madrid's Luka Modric.

Croatia Odds to win World Cup 2014: +15000
Croatia Odds to win Group A: +700

The midfield is where the Croats are solid, but they have issues on the defensive and offensive sides of the pitch. Their big match has to be facing Mexico, as they are major betting underdogs facing Brazil and they should beat Australia.

They have not looked solid in their World Cup tune-ups only beating Liechtenstein 3-2, beating South Korea 2-1, and playing to a draw facing Switzerland.

The draw is not that bad for the Croats, but can they take advantage of it? Playing Brazil without Mandzukic they may have to really pack the defense and hope for a draw.

They outmatch Australia and facing Mexico will be their big test. Still, Croatia has a history of playing well against solid opponents in international tournaments and they will finish second in the group behind host Brazil.

After that they are done, as they face the winner of Group B in the round of 16 and that will likely be Spain or Holland.

How Croatia got to the World Cup

Croatia was decent in qualifying, but they could not beat Belgium, who won the group. The squad finished with the fewest points for any team to advance to the European playoff ties and they were very fortunate to be drawn with Iceland, who they beat 2-0 at home to qualify for this summer.

In the qualifying process they finished with five wins, three losses, and two draws.

World Cup Qualifying Results

12/10/12 Macedonia FYR 1 - 2 Croatia

16/10/12 Croatia 2 - 0 Wales

22/03/13 Croatia 2 - 0 Serbia

26/03/13 Wales 1 - 2 Croatia

07/06/13 Croatia 0 - 1 Scotland

06/09/13 Serbia 1 - 1 Croatia

11/10/13 Croatia 1 - 2 Belgium

15/10/13 Scotland 2 - 0 Croatia

15/11/13 Iceland 0 - 0 Croatia

19/11/13 Croatia 2 - 0 Iceland

World Cup Group Play Schedule

12/06/14 Brazil vs. Croatia - Arena Corinthians

18/06/14 Cameroon vs. Croatia - Arena Amazonia

23/06/14 Croatia vs. Mexico - Arena Pernambuco

Team Key Players

Luka Modric MF Real Madrid - He is definitely the leader of the Croatian squad and must play well on both sides of the pitch and his playmaking ability to set up the offense will be key in group play.

Mario Mandzukic FW Bayern Munich - While he is sitting out the Brazil match his offense will be key facing Australia and especially Mexico.

Ivan Rakitic MF Sevilla - The midfield is the strength of the Croats and he will be counted on to keep his squad in the match in terms of time of possession.