Croatia vs Belgium - World Cup: Team news, lineups & prediction

Grey Whitebloom
Croatia reached the World Cup final in 2018, losing to France
Croatia reached the World Cup final in 2018, losing to France / Lars Baron/GettyImages

Croatia face Belgium on Thursday afternoon in a meeting between two medallists from the 2018 World Cup.

Both sides may have reached the semi-finals in Russia but a passage to the round of 16 in Qatar is not certain for either nation heading into the final game of Group F.

Zlatko Dalic's runners-up are better placed after victory against Canada took them to four points; a draw would send Croatia through. Belgium's position is more precarious in the wake of a limp loss to Morocco.

Roberto Martinez's side could theoretically qualify with one more point but only if winless Canada defeat Morocco by four or more goals in the other group game. A win would confirm Belgium's qualification and leave Croatia sweating over Morocco's result.

Here's everything you need to know about a devilishly poised encounter.

Where are Croatia vs Belgium playing?

  • Location: Ar-Rayyan, Qatar
  • Stadium: Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
  • Date: Thursday 1 December
  • Kick-off Time: 15:00 GMT / 10:00 ET / 07:00 PT

Croatia vs Belgium H2H Results (All Time)

  • Croatia: 3 Wins
  • Canada: 3 Wins
  • Draws: 2

Current Form (Last Five Games)

  • Croatia: WWWDW
  • Canada: WLLWL

Croatia team news

Nikola Vlasic started Croatia's opener against Morocco but was removed with a calf problem at half-time. The West Ham loanee recovered to make the bench against Canada but his replacement, Marko Livaja, delivered a strong argument to retain his starting berth with a crisply struck goal.

The arrival of a traditional striker shifted Andrej Kramaric to the right wing, where he scored twice on Sunday afternoon.

Croatia predicted lineup vs Belgium

Croatia Starting 11 (4-3-3): Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Kramaric, Livaja, Perisic.
Bench: Grbic, Ivusic, Erlic, Vida, Sutalo, Barisic, Stanisic, Jakic, Sucic, Majer, Osric, Pasalic, Petkovic, Budimir, Vlasic.

Belgium team news

Romelu Lukaku was deemed fit enough to come on for the final ten minutes of Belgium's surprise defeat to Morocco. The Inter striker hasn't started a match for club or country since August and may still be short of the fitness required to lead the line. However, with another four days to continue his recovery, Lukaku could make a longer cameo at least.

Amadou Onana will play no part after collecting a second, suspension-inducing booking against the Atlas Lions.

Belgium predicted lineup vs Croatia

Belgium Starting 11 (3-4-2-1): Courtois; Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Castagne; Meunier, Tielemans, Witsel, Trossard; De Bruyne, E Hazard; Batshuayi.
Bench: Casteels, Mignolet, Debast, Faes, Theate, Dendoncker, Vanaken, De Ketelaere, T Hazard, Carrasco, Doku, Lukaku, Mertens, Openda.

Croatia vs Belgium betting tips

Romelu Lukaku needs to fire for Belgium
Romelu Lukaku needs to fire for Belgium / James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages

Belgium to win & Romelu Lukaku to score – Belgium have won their last two meetings with Croatia in all competitions, with Romelu Lukaku netting all three of their goals across these victories.

Croatia to win – Croatia have won six of their last seven matches in all competitions, while Belgium have lost three of their last four.

Croatia to beat Belgium in the final game of Group F is currently 17/10*

Draw? No – None of Belgium’s last 16 World Cup games have ended level, winning 12 and losing four.

Belgium to score? Yes, exactly one – Despite scoring in 51 of their last 53 games in allcompetitions, Belgium have scored more than one goal in just one of their last seven matches.

Croatia under 1.5 goals – Croatia have scored more than once in just one of their eight meetings with Belgium in all competitions.

Belgium to score first and lose – Croatia have conceded first in five of their last six World Cup matches (W2 D2 L1), although they’ve come back to win two of the last three.

Anytime scorer – Andrej Kramaric has scored three goals in his last three international appearances, netting two of his three shots on target last time out against Canada.

Andrej Kramaric is currently 13/2 to score first for Croatia against Belgium*

Anytime scorer – Michy Batshuayi has scored five of his eight shots on target for Belgium in 2022, netting their only goal so far at the 2022 World Cup.

Insights courtesy of Opta. Head to The Analyst Stats Hub for live group stage standings, top scores, match metrics, team stats and much more!

*Odds correct at time of publication. 18+. Please gamble responsibly.

Croatia vs Belgium score prediction

There are a lot of familiar faces in both squads from the podium finishes in 2018 but Belgium seem to be anchored more firmly in the past. Ten players that featured in their semi-final defeat to France four-and-a-half years ago have already appeared this winter.

Kevin De Bruyne's pre-tournament admission that his nation has "no chance" of winning the World Cup because "we're too old" has been painfully apparent in a pair of listless performances.

Martinez pledged: "We will play to win against Croatia and that will be the start of us at this World Cup.” However, if they produce the same lumbering display on Thursday, it will be the end of Belgium at this World Cup.

Prediction: Croatia 2-1 Belgium