Match Preview: Slovakia vs Croatia

World Cup runners-up Croatia travel to Trnava for their UEFA EURO qualifiers encounter with Slovakia this evening.

Slovakia and Croatia are set up for their first-ever competitive encounter, as they meet each other in the European Qualifiers tonight at 20:45 (CET).

Both sides have the same record in the qualifying campaign with two wins and a defeat. The hosts thumped Azerbaijan 5-1 in their most recent outing, while Croatia defeated Wales 2-1 in Osijek.

The upcoming game at the City Arena Trnava is expected to be of big importance for Group E, with Hungary topping the table with nine points from four games.

Team news

Captain Marek Hamsik is a major goal threat for Slovakia. He netted twice last time out against Azerbaijan and is expected to lead his country in tonight’s encounter with the Balzers.

Juraj Kucka will be Hamsik’s partner in the midfielder, while MLS star Albert Rusnak could feature on the right-wing.

Croatia travel to the City Arena in Trnava without their midfield stars Ivan Rakitic and Mateo Kovacic.

Hoffenheim striker Andrej Kramaric has been left out of the squad but Ante Rebic and Ivan Perisic have been in good form and should both start in the attack on Friday.

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Talk to the press

Zlatko Dalic believes his players will need to play at their best level if they want to return to Zagreb with the three points.

“A tough and challenging match awaits us, a motivated opponent, but we have our support,” said the Croatian head coach.

“We will play offensively and look for victory. We have done a good analysis of our opponents, we know what awaits us and it will not be easy at all. I expect a match similar to that in Budapest.

“If we are on a level like we were there, it will be difficult for us. We need to be much better, more engaged and more responsible to get the result.”

Stats

Even though they’ve never played in a competitive game, Slovakia and Croatia have faced each other in four friendly encounters with the Blazers still being undefeated with two wins and two draws.

Both of the games which were played in Slovakia finished with the same result – a 1-1 draw.

The Falcons have registered 11 wins in their last 13 home games since October 2013. (1D 1L) Their only defeat came to the Czech Republic in the UEFA Nations League.

Croatia have lost their last three games on the road, with their most recent victory coming in Ukraine almost two years ago. They have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last seven outings.

The World vice-champions are looking to qualify for the fifth consecutive time in the European Championship, while Slovakia is trying to make their second UEFA EURO appearance as an independent country.

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