UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying: Croatia vs Slovakia preview

UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying: Croatia vs Slovakia preview

Croatia are very close to securing a place at the 2020 European Championship, but they still have one step to take in Saturday's match against Slovakia at HNK Rijeka Stadium. The reverse fixture in UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying Group E ended 4-0 in September, with Nikola Vlasic, Ivan Perisic, Bruno Petkovic and Dejan Lovren scoring for Croatia in Trnava. That was the third victory for Croatia in the five direct matches between the two teams, while the other two matches ended with draws. 

Croatia need just one point from this match, their last game in this campaign. They have a two-point advantage over second-placed Hungary and four points over third-placed Slovakia, but against Hungary they have the advantage of the results in direct matches. In October Croatia secured a 3-0 victory at home against Hungary and then a 1-1 draw in Wales, a result that placed Gareth Bale and his team on the brink of elimination. First-choice central defenders Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida are both suspended for this match, while Matej Mitrovic, Andrej Kramaric and Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic are all injured. 

Slovakia have a game in hand on second-placed Hungary, so they are still in with a real chance of finishing second in this group given the two-point gap between them. Next week Slovakia will play Azerbaijan at home while Hungary will play in Wales, so there's still a real possibility for Marek Hamsik and his team-mates. In October Slovakia were held to a 1-1 draw at home against Wales, their very first draw of this campaign. Norbert Gyomber got sent off in that match and is suspended for Saturday's game. 

Probable line-ups: 

Croatia: Livakovic - Jedvaj, Skoric, Caleta-Car, Barisic - Brozovic, Modric - Rebic, Vlasic, Perisic - Petkovic

Slovakia: Dubravka - Pekarik, Vavro, Skriniar, Hancko - Hamsik, Lobotka, Kucka - Rusnak, Bozenik, Mak

My prediction: 

Croatia are unbeaten in their last five games and have won all their home matches so far in this campaign, they are strong and I believe that they will get a 1-0 victory in this match. 

Here are the odds for the match at NetBet

Croatia win - 1.50

Draw - 4.40

Slovakia win - 6.30

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