Croatia vs England - Tight match expected in World Cup semi-final rematch

Croatia can bounce back at home after Spain mauling
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Croatia got past England 2-1 in extra time in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals in July (Getty Images).

Croatia vs England Match Preview, Predictions & Betting Tips


Croatia and England square off in the UEFA Nations League at the Stadion HNK Rijeka on Friday. These nations fought to the death at the 2018 World Cup and another tough encounter is expected.

Croatia


The 2018 World Cup runners-up haven’t had the best of times since going down 4-2 against France in the show piece in Russia. Zlatko Dalić has seen his side draw 1-1 in a friendly in Portugal before a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Spain in the UEFA Nations League.

The match in Elche was a carve up from start to finish. Croatia were missing central defender Dejan Lovren but should have put up more of a fight. The big loss has been striker Mario Mandzukic who retired from international football after the World Cup.

Ivan Santini led the line against Spain but Andrej Kramaric and Ante Rebic are in contention to get a chance here. Sime Vrsaljko and Marcelo Brozovic withdrew and goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic is injured which means Croatia have three goalkeepers in their squad with one cap between them.

England


The Three Lions went close at the 2018 World Cup but fell at the semi-final stage with a 2-1 extra time defeat against Friday’s opponents Croatia. A 2-1 home defeat against Spain in the UEFA Nations League was followed by a 1-0 friendly win against Switzerland in Leicester.

Marcus Rashford scored both goals for England but might have to make way for Raheem Sterling who returns from injury. Luke Shaw and James Tarkowski are injured and have been replaced by Ben Chilwell and Lewis Dunk.

Harry Kane has scored 19 goals in 32 appearances for England (Getty Images)

Manager Gareth Southgate has handed debut call-ups to James Maddison, Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho. Sancho has been incredible form for Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund with a goal and seven assists in nine appearances. 

Head-to-Head


These nations have played eight times with England winning the head to head contest four to three. The last meeting was in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals where Croatia advanced 2-1 in extra time.

Kieran Tripper put England ahead in the 5th minute but Ivan Perisic equalised and Mario Mandzukic scored the vital winner in the 109th minute. 

Match Up


Croatia were soundly beaten 6-0 in Spain and have to regain confidence here. The return of Ante Rebic is significant and he could play a big role after impressing for Eintracht Frankfurt in recent matches.

Croatia's Ante Rebic is back from injury and will be a danger for England (Getty Images).

Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić will run the show and fancy their chances against the likes of Harry Winks and Ross Barkley. Central midfield is a problem position for England but Croatia have no such worries.

Key Statistics


  • Croatia have conceded 13 goals in their last 3 matches in all competitions. 
  • Croatia have seen both teams score in their last 7 matches (All competitions).
  • England have scored in 9 of their last 10 away matches in all competitions.
  • Both teams have scored in 6 of the last 7 matches between Croatia and England (All competitions). 

Verdict


Croatia can bounce back here after their thrashing in Spain. They showed their class when they beat England in the World Cup semi-finals just three months ago.

This will be a hard fought match with Croatia having a significant edge in central midfield. I expect both teams to score and a 1-1- draw a real possibility. 

Best Bet: Both Teams to Score Yes @ 1.76 - 6 Units
Value Bet: Draw @ 3.25 - 3 Units
Correct Score: 1-1 @ 6.00 -1 Unit
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Matthew Marshall 10 October 2018

UEFA Nations League Previews & Tips