UEFA EURO 2020 PREVIEW: CROATIA VS SCOTLAND, UNCERTAIN FINAL DAY FOR GROUP D

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The UEFA Euro 2020 group stages are coming to a suspenseful end as all the teams still stand a chance to qualify for the knockouts if things go their way. One such enthralling fixture awaits the Hampden Park in Glasgow as Scotland hosts Croatia on Tuesday, June 22.

Croatia is currently third in Group D with just a single point they snatched from Czech Republic thanks to an Ivan Perisic second-half striker.

The -led team has failed to find the opposition net on any other occasion. A brave fight against The Three Lions could only result in a loss as Raheem Sterling’s smart run led to the deciding goal, despite an overall solid, if timid, defensive performance.

 

 

Zlatko Dalic’s team needs to take all three points to keep their dream of a knockout qualification alive.

The Tartan Army fought valiantly against neighbours and rivals England after a Patrick Schick inspired 2-0 loss to Czech Republic. The draw against England couldn’t help them improve their group position as they still sit last on goal difference. Their resilience will be tested by gritty and determined Croatians as both teams will aim for a win.

 

 

Steve Clarke’s side can create history by qualifying for the knockout stage for the first time in their history.

 

TEAM NEWS

Dejan Lovren has fully recovered and featured in the draw against Croatia after missing the first game due to injury. There aren’t any other absentees in Zlatko Dalic’s squad and he is expected to field the strongest side in the do-or-die fixture. Brozovic didn’t play the last game as Croatia tweaked their midfield.

 

 

A 4-2-3-1 formation makes their defence more compact as compared to a 4-3-3 and Dalic might stick with it. However the Croatian manager has announced he will make a couple changes to the squad. The Milan forward Ante Rebic has failed to create much impact and might be one of the changes.

Croatia Probable Lineup: Livakovic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Gvardiol; Modric, Kovacic; Perisic, Vlasic, Brekalo; Pekovic

 

Scotland played and lost the first game without the two young starlets, Chelsea’s Billy Gilmour and Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney, two of their most important players, in both attack and defence due to injury. However, both of them returned in the match against England and gave an exceptional performance in the 0-0 draw.

 

 

Steve Clarke will have a fully fit  squad for the final group stage game against Croatia and will go for all three points in a 3-4-1-2 formation.

Scotland Probable Lineup: Marshall; Tierney, Hanley, McTominay; Robertson, McGregor, Gilmour, O’Donnell; McGinn; Dykes, Adams

 

GAME CHANGERS

Luka Modric is certainly the engine of the team and controls the tempo of the game for Croatia. The team’s overall performance lies on the Real Madrid midfielder’s form on the day. The 35-year old midfielder isn’t slowing down and was named the player of the match for his performance as a deep-lying playmaker against Czech Republic.

 

 

His link-up play with Kovacic, Kramaric and Perisic will be difficult for Scotland to read and defend. Modric tends to supply pinpoint long balls from the halfway line and find his forwards’ stinging runs behind defences.

Chelsea’s 20-year old midfielder Billy Gilmour made his first international start against England and played an important role in securing the point against old-time rivals. Scotland allows two wingbacks to advance to the final third, leaving more defensive responsibility on his young shoulders, but he stood up to the test and made his mark on the international stage.

 

 

He’s expected to play as a central midfielder alongside Callum McGregor or Stuart Armstrong and they will have a game-deciding battle against Croatia’s seasoned and durable midfield.

 

PREDICTION

Both teams need a win to hope for a knockout phase qualification and the key to victory lies in the central zone of the pitch. Both teams have hard-working midfielders who run their socks off pursuing the ball. The teams are similar in their compact shape and resilience, but will have to risk defensive stability to attack the opposition. The match looks like a close battle considering the recent form, but Croatia might edge over the hosts with the talent on their flanks and in attack.

FootTheBall predicts a 1-0 victory for Croatia.

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