Best odds: 5/2
Hungary welcomes Croatia on Sunday for what will be the second game of the Euro 2020 qualifications campaign for both sides.
The Hungarians opened their account with a 2-0 away defeat at the hands of Slovakia on Wednesday and consequently lie at the bottom of Group E. They boast no proper stars within their ranks, but they do have a nice team cohesion around them.
The last two competitive games they played prior to Slovakia defeat were 2-0 home victories against Estonia and Finland.
Their shape lately varies between 4-3-3 which they employed in Slovakia and 4-2-3-1, with Adam Szalai the player usually deployed as the furthest up front.
They have no important players missing from their squad, and no fresh injuries among those who have been called up. If he plays, captain Balazs Dzsudzsak will book his 100th cap.
There can be no doubts as to the quality in the Croatian team, which, unlike Hungary, boasts some big stars in Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitić, Real Madrid’s 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modrić, and Mario Mandžukić now of Juventus but with the experience of playing for a number of top clubs around Europe. They surprised the world in 1998 when they ended the World Cup in France third, and last year in Russia they went one step further, losing the final to France.
Nonetheless, Croatia has had an aura of unpredictability around them lately. They had a nightmare of the Nations League, albeit in a very strong League A group 4 where they finished behind Spain and England and will consequently be relegated to League B.
They won the first game of the Euro 2020 qualifications campaign at home against Azerbaijan by coming back from behind to seal a 2-1 victory.
Fullback Šime Vrsaljko, currently on loan at Inter Milan from Atletico Madrid, didn’t make the squad due to injury, while winger Marko Pjaca, playing for Fiorentina on loan from Juventus, is currently ruled out.
There is a question mark over the fitness of Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren who hasn’t played for a few months. He is fit now, but perhaps lacking match fitness.
Things to Consider
- Since Croatia regained independence in the 1990s, the two sides met six times. Croatia won the first three, while the last three, all played on Hungarian soil, ended in draws.
- Hungary won the last three competitive games at home.
Another draw seems as the likeliest outcome on Sunday. Croatia are the better team, obviously, but the Hungarians are proving a tricky customer at home, and it feels like a slippery patch of ground, one where the visitors might easily drop some points.
Best odds: 5/2
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