England and Croatia face a crunch clash at Wembley Stadium as their first UEFA Nations League group stage comes to a close.
The victor in the capital will see them secure a semi-final berth, whilst both teams are still under threat of relegation.
Gareth Southgate’s men come into the clash at Wembley in a buoyant mood having dispatched of the United States of America 3-0 at home last time out in Wayne Rooney’s final appearance for the national team. Jesse Lingard gave the Three Lions the perfect start with a tremendous strike, before Trent Alexander-Arnold doubled the lead. Debutant Callum Wilson rounded off a perfect night with his first goal for the national team.
The victory ensured that England made it four games unbeaten having notched up three wins and a draw since a 3-2 defeat to Spain in October. As a matter of fact, the win over the USA also made it two consecutive games in which the Three Lions have scored three or more goals. The last time they achieved that was back in 2015. They will obviously hope to take that form going forwards into their game with Croatia. Only a win would be enough to see Southgate’s troops top the group ahead of Spain, whilst a scoreless draw would see them safe.
Wayne Rooney will not be included in the squad having only been selected for the clash against the USA. Defender Harry Maguire is also out having not been included due to injury. There is sure to be a much-changed squad to the lineup against USA, with Harry Kane, Kyle Walker, Dele Alli and Jordan Henderson expected to be drafted back into the side.
Zlatko Dalic’s men have a tough task to top the group as they travel to Wembley Stadium. Currently at the bottom of the group on four points, Croatia need a win to progress to the knockout stages or at least a scoreless draw to ensure they remain safe from relegation. However, their last result will give them plenty of confidence to progress. Taking on Spain, the beaten World Cup finalists managed to earn a fantastic victory. Andrej Kramaric put the hosts ahead before they were pegged back by a goal from Dani Ceballos. However, a brace from defender Tin Jedvaj, either side of a Sergio Ramos strike, was enough to earn three points.
One aspect that the Three Lions will target is the Croatian defence. Despite having only lost one out of their last five matches, they have only kept one clean sheet in their last ten. Ironically, that was the 0-0 draw with England in Rijeka during the last international break.
Midfielder Ivan Rakitic has already had to withdraw from the squad due to injury. They have an otherwise clean bill of health. The team will probably be a similar XI to the one seen against Spain.
Key Facts To Consider
- England have the slightly better record between the sides (W4, D2, L3)
- The last clash ended 0-0 between the two sides
- Both sides have scored in six out of the nine games between the two sides
- England beat Croatia 5-1 the last time the two teams played at Wembley Stadium
- The Three Lions have not failed to score at Wembley since a 0-0 draw with Brazil in 2017
Both sides will be under no illusions as to how key this game could potentially be. Each side will be going all out for the win and there should be goals for supporters at Wembley to enjoy. However, the Three Lions should have enough to capitalise on the Croatian’s sloppy defence and earn a much-needed victory.
Prediction: England to win and both teams to score
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