Croatia vs England: Revenge is almost certainly on the cards for Gareth Southgate’s men following their crushing defeat at the World Cup.
Croatia vs England match preview
Things have not gone so swimmingly for two sides competing for the biggest trophy in international football just two months ago.
After losing 4-2 to France in the World Cup final, Croatia drew to Portugal in a friendly before getting thrashed 6-0 in their opening Nations League group game to Spain.
While England followed up their semi-final heartbreak to Croatia with a third-place play-off defeat to Belgium and a 2-1 loss to Spain in their group opener.
But the Three Lions did manage a friendly win over Switzerland last time out.
Croatia’s humiliation against Spain has raised serious questions about their back line, with Zlatko Dalic’s side now on a run of six games without a clean sheet.
The hosts will also have their home advantage limited on Friday night, with the game at Stadion HNK Rijeka being played behind closed doors.
Having had a 78,000-strong crowd at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Croatia will have no home fans cheering them on after Uefa punished them for having a swastika marked on their pitch before a game in 2015.
England, who have never played a ‘ghost game’ in their history, travel to Rijeka with Harry Kane bang in form for Tottenham.
The Three Lions skipper was visibly exhausted at the start of the season following his World Cup exploits, where he won the Golden Boot, but he has now scored four goals in his last four games across all competitions.
And with the 25-year-old close to his best, England should cause Croatia’s shaky defence all sorts of problems as the two sides battle for the first Nations League points.
Croatia vs England team news
The hosts will be without Inter Milan duo Marcelo Brozovic and Sime Vrsaljko through injury, while Nikola Kalinic remains out of contention after he was sent home during the World Cup.
But Dalic will have Liverpool centre-half Dejan Lovren back after he made his return from injury in the goalless draw with Manchester City on Sunday.
Gareth Southgate has named a much-changed squad for the international break, with the likes of Lewis Dunk, James Maddison Jadon Sancho getting their first senior call-ups.
The England boss can name eight of the starting XI that lost to Croatia last time out, with Ashely Young, Dele Allli and Jesse Lingard all missing.
Left-backs Danny Rose and Luke Shaw have both had to withdraw from the squad due to minor injuries, meaning Leicester youngster Ben Chilwell could well make his first start for the Three Lions.
Croatia vs England head-to-head
The two sides saw out a 1-1 draw in normal time in their World Cup clash, with Croatia going on to win 2-1 in extra-time.
But of their previous seven meetings, England boast the superior record with four wins to Croatia’s two.
Croatia vs England form
Last six competitive matches
Croatia vs England prediction
Not many international sides get the chance to claim revenge so soon after a tournament knockout – and we’re backing England to seize the opportunity.
We’re also expecting a low-scoring affair, with 13 of England’s last 17 matches coming in Under 2.5 goals in 90 minutes.
You can back it to happen again at 3/5 or combine it with an England win at 9/2.