Belarus - Croatia predictions and free betting tips [20/11/2023]
Most pundits are invested in the qualifying rounds for the senior squads for Euro 2024, but let's take a moment to ponder on the U21 - players of this age aiming for their main tournament, which will be held in Slovakia in two years' time.
Especially let's think about Group G, where the race is still ongoing, engaging all teams, including Andorra U21. Specifically, we will evaluate the prospects of Belarus U21, who will clash with Croatia U21 in Armavir. The teams have an uneven history of contests in the group: Serge Yassinski's mentees have played 7 matches, whilst Dragan Skocic’s footballers have only featured in 3 games, but having accrued 4 points more than the young Belarusians.
The situation for Belarus U21 in the group is almost clear - the chances for Yassinski's boys to qualify for the main tournament are slim. However, they need to gain prestige points to stay above Andorra U21 and the Faroe Islands U21.
The young Belarusian team’s key disappointments in this selection were the stalemates in their March confrontations, where they should've gotten the better of Greece U21. Moreover, they needed to pull out two victories over the Pyrenean team, who currently are at rock bottom, in order to secure the 2nd position in the group. Overpowering the Portuguese is probably impossible, and securing even a draw seems challenging. The Faroe Islands U21 has been astonishingly improving, demonstrating impressive results and, they actually defeated the Belarusian side two months ago with a scoreline of 3:2.
The Belarusians possess a decent team, albeit weaker than Greece U21, yet it looks well-coordinated. There's some rotation happening in the goalkeeper position, but I suppose that Vladislav Ignatyev should be the primary choice for the match with Croatia U21, as he’s been solid playing for Gomel. In terms of formation, a 5:3:2 should suit the current crop of players managed by Yassinski, however, the Belarus U21 coach might try a more offensive strategy against the Croatians with nothing to lose in the group.
This year, Skocic's team participated in the finals of Euro U21 serving in 2023, missing out on the knockout phase. Spain U21 and Ukraine U21 advanced to the playoffs, with the Croatians copping the third position.
Skocic’s army began the qualifying tournament for Euro 2025 in Slovakia with a high-scoring victory of 4:2 over the Faroe Islands U21, but then they failed to secure a win against Greece U21. In the 3rd match, they faced Belarus U21, against whom the Croatians encountered no issues - a neat victory of 2:0.
In this group, Croatia U21 hasn't faced the main leader - Portugal U21, where they'll have to aim for a home draw, and most likely the players under Dragan Skocic's helm will concede to the mighty opponents, who have already secured the top spot in the group table.
The young Croatian squad is quite formidable. Nearly all of the main team members play key roles in their clubs, and some move on to the senior team under Zlatko Dalic, for instance, the Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Martin Baturina who has recently substituted Luka Modric in a match against Latvia.
In general, in terms of individual skills, and collective teamwork, Croatia U21 surpasses Belarus U21, which is evidenced by their match in the previous round of the group, as well as other statistical parameters.
Croatia's youth squad nearly always comes out victorious against Belarus U21, and the recent 2:0 score reiterates that Skocic's men are certain favourites for the away match.
Match forecast: Belarus U21 - Croatia U21
I am going to place my bet on a minus handicap for the guests. I reckon Croatia U21 will best Belarus U21 by at least two goals.