Georgia are unbeaten in their first four qualifying games and they will be looking to extend that run, although the Croatia game will be the first real test for Temuri Ketsbaia’s side. The Croats have been in impressive form lately and they remain the favourites to win this one.
Georgia still unbeaten
Georgia are one of those teams that have constantly been closing the gap behind top European sides and I wouldn’t be surprised if they finally make it to a big tournament in the near future. Talented coach Temuri Ketsbaia has significantly improved already good squad, as witnessed by team’s results in the Euro 2012 qualifiers. Georgia currently sit in third place with six points from four games, with their 3:2 goal difference proving they are as tough to beat as anyone in Europe. Temuri Ketsbaia’s side have scored just one goal in two home games, but kept a clean sheet in both of them, meaning that we should expect another very tight game when they host mighty Croatia. Georgia continued the good run by beating Slovenia and Armenia away in their last two friendly games, so the hosts clearly enter the game high on confidence.
The hosts will be without excellent midfielder Zhano Ananidze, which is going to hurt their creative department, while Kakha Kaladze remains a doubt with a muscle injury.
Croatia leading the race
After quite a while, Croatia have missed out on a big tournament, having failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, but Slaven Bilic’s side are determined to make things right in the Euro 2012 qualifiers. The Croats have been placed into a pretty easy group for their standards, considering they had qualified for the Euro 2008 despite having England and Russia in their group before failing to pip England and Ukraine to the place at the 2010 World Cup. As a result, Croatia picked up 10 points from their first 4 group games, only sharing spoils with Greece, although they are likely to face a tough task against very motivated Georgia side. Slaven Bilic will have the courtesy of choosing from a fully fit squad, with players like Modric, Srna, Rakitic and Petric expected to lead their team to victory in Georgia.
Mario Mandzukic has been left out due to poor form, while all other footballers are fit to play.
Georgia have proved to be a tough nut to crack, having gone for four games without losing, but they still haven’t faced a team of Croatia’s quality. There is no doubt we will see a very tight game, but I believe the Croats’ superior quality will shine and expect them to record a narrow victory.
Our prediction: Croatia to win by one goal
Odds: 3.50 (5/2)