Croatia vs. Portugal: Date, Time, Live Stream and Preview

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Croatia vs. Portugal: Date, Time, Live Stream and Preview
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It may only be an international friendly, but when Croatia face Portugal on Monday afternoon, you can bet the two teams will be plenty motivated to put forth a good showing. 

The Croatians are coming off a hugely disappointing 1-0 loss to Scotland in World Cup qualifying that put Belgium in the driver's seat to win Group A, so a good performance to erase that failure is a must for the side.

Meanwhile, Portugal will be looking to build on its momentum from a 1-0 victory over Russia, which has at least temporarily given the side the lead in Group F (though by just two points and with Russia holding two games in hand). 

With plenty of talent on both sides, this should be an entertaining match if nothing else. Let's break down this European friendly. 

 

When: Monday, June 10 at 1:20 p.m. ET

WhereStade de Geneve, Switzerland

Watch: WatchESPN

 

What They're Saying

Handout/Getty Images

After Portugal's win over Russia, manager Paulo Bento talked about what the win meant for his squad, via Daniel Alvarenga of Reuters (from Yahoo!):

Coach Paulo Bento, who steered Portugal to a semi-final spot at Euro 2012, said there was still much work ahead.

"It seems a fair result that allows us to continue fighting for our goal," he said with three qualifiers left.

"It was important to beat Russia... I don't have the habit of classifying games as decisive, but as important, worth three points".

A win over Croatia and you have to think Portugal would be absolutely brimming with confidence ahead of its final qualification matches.

 

Portugal Player to Watch: Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal goes as Cristiano Ronaldo goes, there's no question about that. He may not have scored against Russia in Portugal's 1-0 win, but if you don't think the Russians knew where he was in every moment of that match, you've got another thing coming. 

It's obviously very important for Helder Postiga to continue to score up top for Portugal—and if Nani can pick up his game and crack the lineup, he gives the team another dimension as well—but this is Ronaldo's team. 

And it should be—he's scored over 50 goals in all competitions for Real Madrid in three straight seasons, and in my opinion, he's the most exciting player in the world to watch. Much like fans watching the game, you can bet the Croatian defense won't take its eyes off Ronaldo throughout. 

 

Croatia Player to Watch: Mario Mandzukic

Mario Mandzukic was excellent in his first season for Bayern Munich, eventually displacing Mario Gomez as the team's top striker, scoring 21 goals in all competitions for the Bavarian club. 

But Mandzukic's value goes beyond his goal tally. He's a tireless worker, pressuring the opposing team's back line when they are in possession and helping his team win possession back high up the pitch. He was an integral part of Bayern's devastating pressure this season that no club in Europe had an answer for.

He was fairly quiet in Croatia's shocking 1-0 loss to Scotland in World Cup qualifying, however, so you can bet he'll want to right the ship against Portugal. Keep a close eye on Croatia's most dangerous attacker in this contest. 

 

Which team wins?

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Prediction

Portugal is coming off a key 1-0 win over Russia, while Croatia is of course coming off a devastating loss to Scotland. On one hand, that means the Portuguese will be confident. On the other, Croatia should be plenty motivated to right the ship. 

Look for this one to end in a very competitive 1-1 draw.

 

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