Reigning World Champions France will be aiming to extend their unbeaten start to their latest UEFA Nations League campaign as they travel to Zagreb on Wednesday evening to take on Croatia.
The two teams are already extremely well acquainted having previously contested the 2018 World Cup final so the clash is shaping up to be another intriguing and entertaining one.
Zlatko Dalic’s troops have not had the best of experiences in the UEFA Nations League it would be fair to say. Out of seven previous games in the competition, the nation have only managed to come away with two wins. In that time, they have taken some heavy defeats too including a 6-0 reverse at the hands of Spain, as well as 4-1 loss to Portugal and a 4-2 thumping at the hands of France the last time the two sides came together. As a result, they now sit third in their Nations League group, already four points behind the French and Portugal with only half of the group fixtures having been played. Their form is a lot better than their fortunes in the competition suggest though. Croatia have actually won their last two fixtures in all competitions and now have the chance to win three matches in a row for the first time since their surprising World Cup campaign of 2018. Their home record is also excellent having not lost a competitive match on Croatian soil since a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Belgium in 2013 as they aimed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
Marcelo Brozovic will be absent for this particular clash after he picked up a yellow card last time out so will be suspended. He is likely to be replaced in the starting lineup by Mario Pasalic. Andrej Kramaric could be recalled after coming off the bench and scoring against Switzerland.
Since overcoming Croatia in the World Cup final over two years ago, Les Bleus really have been in imperious form. Of the 17 matches that they have played since then, they have only lost two; a 2-0 loss to the Netherlands just under two years ago and 2-0 defeat to Turkey in June 2019. As a matter of fact, in all of those matches, they have won 12, scoring 34 goals in the process. That all means that France are surely one of the most in-form national sides in world football. It is somewhat surprising then that considering the nation’s current form under Deschamps, they do not top their UEFA Nations League group. After three matches, France have managed to claim seven points, the same as leaders Portugal, but they remain behind on goal difference. A win against Croatia, bettering Portugal’s result against Sweden by at least two goals, could well see Les Blues claim top spot and potentially a route to the Nations League finals.
The major news coming out of the French camp is surprisingly the health of the whole squad. Having played Portugal in a recent friendly, the whole squad is set to be tested for coronavirus, with Cristiano Ronaldo having received a positive result. It remains to be seen whether any of Les Bleus will return a positive result but there is likely to be some disruption.
Kay Facts To Consider
- Croatia have never managed to beat France in competitive play (D2, L5)
- Les Bleus won the last game between the two 4-2
- Croatia have only ever kept one clean sheet in their seven matches against France
- France have only ever failed to score in one UEFA Nations League match
- An average of over three goals is scored in matches between the two nations
The two teams come into this game both in relatively positive form. Each side then will be extremely keen to put down a marker in the UEFA Nations League. France of course are the favourites but the result could depend on how many, if any, positive coronavirus results that they return ahead of the match.
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