Preview: Croatia vs Slovenia – prediction, team news, lineups, where to watch
Croatia welcomes Slovenia to Stadion Poljud on Tuesday evening as the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup continue.
Group H is still tight, heading into the weekend the six teams were separated by just three points, but victories for Croatia and Russia have allowed them to drive a small gap at the top.
To have the finalist tag in the last World Cup, having lost just under half of their last 20 matches represents something of a fall from grace for Zlatko Dalic and his team.
Their Euro 2020 campaign was not a disaster, but it was certainly not a success: two second-half goals against Scotland were vital in advancing to the knockout rounds, where they were then sent home after a dramatic 5-3 loss. in extra time against Spain.
However, an away draw in Russia last week was a solid result, and the Blazers were back on the winning track Saturday when they beat a stubborn Slovakian team 1-0, again on the road.
Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozovic scored the only goal of the match in the final four minutes to give Croatia their first win since that match against Scotland.
With 10 points from five games, the Blazers are currently second in the Group H standings, tied on points and goal difference with group leaders Russia, and they hope that a strong victory here when they finally return home, can see them. heads the group.
Matjaz Kek’s team managed a 1-0 home win against a tenacious Maltese side. A penalty kick by FC Lugano midfielder Sandi Lovric at the end of the break was enough to secure the three points.
That result takes them to third place in the group and they will know that a qualifying spot is a possibility if they can pull off an unlikely win here.
The Slovenians are certainly on an upward trajectory: after back-to-back defeats to Russia and world No. 99 Cyprus, they secured a point in a hotly contested draw at home to Slovakia, before adding all three to their tally on Saturday.
Kek will also be sure to remember his men who beat Croatia 1-0, courtesy of another Lovric goal, in the opening qualifying game in March.
Marseille defender Duje Caleta-Car is the only doubt in the Croatian squad, after missing the game against Slovakia due to a slight injury.
Domagoj Vida took his place on the baseline and will likely keep it, having helped his team produce a clean sheet.
Andrej Kramaric, Ivan Perisic, and Marko Livaja surprisingly missed the starting eleven of the last game, being substitutes for the last half hour, and it is likely that at least two will be drafted again for this game.
Following an injury-free game against Malta, Slovenia’s head coach Kek has a team of 25 players in top form at his disposal.
New Middlesbrough signing Andraz Sporar was substituted for the final 20 minutes but missed a penalty during that time, so he hasn’t made the best claim to replace 18-year-old Benjamin Sesko upfront.
Croatia possible starting lineup:
Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Vida, Sosa; Pasalic, Brozovic, Kovacic; Vlasic, Kramaric, Perisic
Slovenia possible starting lineup:
Oblak; Balkovec, Mevlja, Blazic, Stojanovic; Zajc, Stulac; Mlakar, Lovric, Ilicic; Sesko
We say: Croatia 2-1 Slovenia
Croatia will face a tough Slovenian side that are undefeated in their last four matches, but Dalic’s side should be able to take advantage of their home advantage and take all three points, despite a valiant fight from the visitors.