Croatia and Nigeria will fight out in a fascinating encounter as both the sides will know the value of three points in this match, which may take them to the next stage of the World Cup as the group runners, or even as the group Champions.
It will be a crunch tie between the Super Eagles and the Vatrenis as there is a good chance that the winners of this match will have a definite advantage in the latter stage of the group matches. With both sides gifted with some individual brilliance, a hard fought tactical fight can be expected on Saturday.
We have shorlisted five players from both the teams who we can keep a tab ahead of the fixture.
Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria):
The first Nigerian name that comes in the mind is this strong defensive midfielder named Wilfred Ndidi, who will be crucial for them at the heart of midifeld, shielding their defenders. He has been instrumental for Leicester last season and a lot will be expected of him. The 21 year old has a bright future and a stellar performance in the world cup will definitely help him to grow in statures.
Alex Iwobi (Nigeria):
A lot is expected from Alex Iwobi, who hasn’t yet lived up to his potential so far at Arsenal. The 22 year old bursted into scenes a couple seasons earlier but since then his progress has stalled a bit, but a good World Cup will be the perfect fuel to reinstigate his form and take him to the next level. He has done well for Super Eagles in the recent past and will be given a key role in midfield, supporting the likes of Ighalo and Musa.
Luka Modric (Croatia):
The evergreen Luka Modric will be the main man in the Croatian orchestra as he will dictate the team from midifeld and look to penetrate the African defense. The Real Madrid man is so crucial for them and a good game for him will definitely see them through in the first match. Modric, now 32 is in the twilight of his career and would look to end this world cup on a high, and a definite candidate to look out for in this match.
Andrej Kramaric (Croatia):
English Premier League fans may remember him as he had a short stint with Leicester, which also was an unsuccessful one for the 26 year old. Since then he has grown in leaps and bounds and has been prolific in Bundesliga fo Hoffenheim. It was Kramaric’s goals that helped Croatia overcome Ukraine in the decisive group tie, and he even bagged one in the play-offs against Greece and finished as Croatia’s third top goal scorer in the qualifiers, and at 26, he still has his best years ahead of him.
Mario Mandzukic (Croatia):
Mandzukic is definitely the main man up front for Croatia as his presence up front and goal scoring ability will be important. His excellent aerial ability and the ability to fend off defenders to feed the midfielders will be pivotal for the European side to break through Nigerian defense.