Croatia and Scotland’s hopes of progressing to the knockout stages of Euro 2020 all rest on their meeting at Hampden Park on Tuesday night.
Taking into account Croatia’s performance at the 2018 World Cup, it’s impossible not to feel as though they’ve been hugely underwhelming at this summer’s tournament. They were beaten by England in their opening fixture and picked up a point against the Czech Republic.
Scotland’s draw with England was certainly met with more positivity among their own supporters than it was by those south of the border and while it wasn’t a victory, there were plenty of positives to take away from it as they prepare for their Group D finale.
Here’s 90min‘s preview of Croatia vs Scotland.
When is kick off? Tuesday 22 June, 20:00 (BST)
Where is the match being played? Hampden Park
What TV channel is it on? ITV1/ITV Hub (UK), fuboTV (US)
Who’s the referee? Fernando Andres Rapallini (ARG)
Who’s the VAR? Alejandro Hernandez (ARG)
Croatia could welcome back Rangers‘ Borna Barisic at left back having missed their first two group fixtures through injury. Marcelo Brozovic was left out of the Czech Republic draw but looks set to return to the starting lineup for this one.
Bruno Petkovic could start up front with Nikola Vlasic operating from wide as he continues to work his way towards full fitness.
Scotland have been dealt a huge blow ahead of this vital fixture with Billy Gilmour, one of their standout performers against England, testing positive for coronavirus. Stuart Armstrong is expected to come into the side to replace him.
Che Adams and Lyndon Dykes look set to start up front, although Steve Clarke may consider playing Kevin Nisbet in the hope of netting their first goal of the tournament.
Croatia: Livakovic; Vrsaljko, Vida, Lovren, Barisic; Brozovic, Kovacic; Vlasic, Modric, Perisic; Petkovic.
Scotland: Marshall; McTominay, Hanley, Tierney; O’Donnell, McGregor, Armstrong, McGinn, Robertson; Dykes, Adams.
Croatia have never beaten Scotland in a competitive fixture since their independence. The last meeting between these two nations took place in October 2013, a game the Scots won 2-0.
In the five previous meetings, Scotland have won twice with the other three occasions all ending in draws.
Nothing less than a victory will do for either of these sides and even if there is a cagey start, at some point both managers will need to throw the kitchen sink at it.
Scotland’s failure to score a goal so far has been disappointing but Croatia have only managed the one and it’s probably fair to say the first strike here could prove decisive.
Having reached the World Cup final in 2018, Zlatko Dalic’s men certainly have the upper hand when it comes to big game experience, but home advantage for the Scots somewhat levels the playing field.
Croatia’s superior technical quality in midfield could see them have the lion share of possession and their more patient style could see them win this by a single goal.
Prediction: Croatia 1-0 Scotland