• Analysis

Match Preview: Croatia vs Slovakia

Croatia, Luka Modric
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Croatia will welcome Slovakia to the HNK Rijeka Stadium in Rijeka for their EURO 2020 qualifier encounter on Saturday night.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup finalists Croatia will close their EURO qualifying campaign this evening with a home game against Slovakia, starting at 20:45 (CET).

They are heading into the fixture as Group E leaders with 14 points and all they need is a draw to book their place at the upcoming European Championship.

Slovakia, on the other hand, are desperate to win points, as things in Group E are still pretty open with four sides fighting for the top two spots on the table as we enter the final two rounds of the EURO 2020 qualifiers.

The visitors have collected 10 points with two games to go, two more than fourth-placed Wales, who face Azerbaijan this evening, and two less than second-placed Hungary, who have only one game left on their schedule.

A win against Croatia would be a big boost for the Slovakian National Team and would practically see them qualifying for the European Championship, as they welcome Azerbaijan in the final round, while Wales and Hungary face each other at the same time.

Luka Modric and the boys could still qualify even with a defeat tonight, but then they would have to wait for Wales to not lose against Hungary in the closing round, or for Slovakia to drop points at home vs Azerbaijan, which is really unlikely.

Team news

Center-back pairing of Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida are both suspended after their bookings against Wales last time out.

Matej Mitrovic, Ivan Rakitic and Andrej Kramaric have all had to withdraw because of injury but Marcelo Brozovic is available again having been suspended for the Wales game.

Norbert Gyomber is suspended following his dismissal against Wales so with Martin Skrtel and Tomas Hubocan now retired from international football, Denis Vavro could partner Milan Skriniar in the centre of defence.

Laszlo Benes has pulled out of the squad and Adam Zrelak remains sidelined, while youngster Robert Bozenik is set to start up front again with Adam Nemec also retiring since the last international break.

Stats

Croatia are yet to lose against Slovakia, registering three wins and two draws in five encounters with the opponents.

In the reverse fixture of the EURO 2020 qualifying campaign, the Blazers registered an impressive 4-0 win at the City Arena in Trnava.

Croatia’s last home defeat came in a friendly game against Tunis back in June. In a competitive game, the Blazers have not tested defeat playing on their home soil since the 2-1 loss to Belgium back in October 2013.

Slovakia have won just two of their last 10 games on the road, noting one draw and seven defeats in the process.

The Blazers have the best attack and the best defense in Group E, having scored 14 and conceded six goals in seven qualifying encounters.