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High spirits may not be enough for depleted Welsh against Croatia

| 26.03.2013

After Wales completed a second successive comeback against Scotland on Friday much of the post-match reaction from their players talked of the spirit within the camp, with skipper Ashley Williams praising the “the character of the lads” and describing the current mood within the squad as “probably the best time in the five years since I’ve been here”.

However the fact remains that they left it late (later than the host’s Robert Snodgrass’ 74th minute sending off to be precise) to score the goals which turned a defeat against a side who had failed to win any of their last six competitive games.

They are 4/1 to beat visiting Croatia with Coral this evening, with the visitors 8/11 to inflict a defeat on Chris Coleman’s men at the Millennium Stadium.

Croatia are in the midst of a run of six matches without defeat, comprising five wins and a draw and represent a far more significant challenge than that presented by the out of sorts Scots at Hampden on Friday. The sole blot on that sequence came against Belgium, with whom they are vying for pole position in Group A. The Balkan outfit are 8/11 to top the group with Coral whilst the the up and coming Belgians are evens to prevail.

10 games have passed since the Welsh last managed a clean sheet and with the visitors only denied a goal by Spain in their last 13 outings its seems the home rearguard is destined to be breached.

The visitors’ Mario Mandzukic has plundered 18 goals in 32 appearances for Bayern Munich and Croatia this term including strikes in his last three internationals and he can be backed to register for the fourth game running at 9/2 first/last goalscorer or 6/5 to score any time.

The Croatian defence has conceded just twice in five qualifying games, but both goals have come on the road and their propensity for away concession is is highlighted by a single clean sheet in their last six competitive games away outings.

However Aaron Ramsey’s dismissal in the Scotland victory means that they are now without two first choice midfielders, with Joe Allen also unavailable and Gareth Bale’s participation in doubt earlier in the week so it seems that their attacking threat may not be in the rudest of health. The visitors can be backed at 19/20 to claim their first away clean sheet of the campaign and 29/20 to win to nil with Coral.