Only the best-finishing runner-up from UEFA’s nine qualifying groups will make it to the World Cup play-offs and, as it stands, neither Croatia nor Ukraine – the former are second in Group I – will be making an appearance there. Iceland host bottom side Kosovo on Monday and now appear certain to reach their first ever World Cup next summer – a remarkable achievement for a country of their size, and after they qualified for and impressed at Euro 2016.
Croatia and Ukraine are both on 17 points at this stage, with a final match to go, though due to the best runners-up being worked out by discarding their results against the bottom side from each of the nine groups, Croatia are currently behind Wales having scored fewer goals. The Welsh face a make or break game of their own in the form of the Republic of Ireland, so much can still change but both teams are in need of a positive result.
To get the best chance of finishing second and then qualifying for a two-legged tie, clearly both Group I sides need a win. However, despite their individual quality, Croatia have won just once in their last four and dropped points against Finland last week, handing the initiative to Iceland. Indeed, they have scored more than one goal in a game on just two occasions, causing the sacking of Ante Cacic, who has been replaced by Zlatko Dalic ahead of their trip to Ukraine.
Ukraine have similarly struggled for goals, scoring just 13 in nine games, in what is the lowest scoring group. Their two defeats to this point have come to Croatia and Iceland, but they have won three of their past four matches and will be confident in front of their home crowd despite being considered underdogs in the World Cup odds offered by Tipbet.com.
The top sports betting site has plentiful odds available after a short registration process, with a generous welcome bonus also available. Croatia, despite being away from home, are marginally rated as favourites, and can be backed at 2.45 with Tipbet. Their opponents should not be ruled out at 2.90, though draw (3.35) may not be enough to see Croatia into the play-offs. There are many other markets to bet on at Tipbet, including the correct score and the likelihood of both teams finding the net.