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These two sides experienced different fortunes on the opening day, but though Croatia were expected to struggle against group favourites England, a win away in Scotland was a crucial result for the Czech Republic.
The current Group D leaders have now won five of their last eight fixtures, even taking a point off Belgium in a World Cup qualifier, though Croatia are a cut above the teams they beat over this period (Israel, Slovakia, Estonia, Albania and Scotland).
The 2018 World Cup finalists are enduring a difficult spell, but they retain some quality players and will expect to dominate possession here with a technically gifted midfield trio of Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic.
Croatia are a disappointing W4-D2-L8 since September 2020, as their only victories across their last 10 have come against Cyprus and Malta.
However, it’s worth noting that of those eight defeats, six were inflicted by either Belgium, England, France or Portugal. Excluding those elite sides, Croatia are a much better W8-D4-L2 since September 2019 and they’ll expect to take something from this encounter.
However, having led at the break in just three of the last 11 such outings, Croatia may have to be patient to exert authority over proceedings.
Indeed, the Czech Republic led at half-time at Hampden Park, meaning they’ve only gone in behind at the break once in eight appearances now.
This doesn’t look like a game that should provide too many goals either, especially given that neither side needs to push the boat out to far, as a point here and a win over Scotland in Croatia’s final game would all but send both through to the knockouts.
Seven of the Czech’s past 10 outings have seen fewer than three strikes, while the same has been true in five of Croatia’s past six, with four of these featuring exactly one successful effort.
Croatia -1 Handicap Draw
‘Unders’ looks a bit short here, but given we don’t expect the goals to flow, the half-time draw makes sense.
However, Croatia’s record against teams outside the elite would suggest they should pull through eventually, and the one-goal winning margin appeals. Only one of Croatia’s past 12 matches have been settled one way or the other by more than a single goal, a 3-0 win over Malta, while seven of the Czech Republic’s past eight defeats have come by a single strike, with the exception when visiting Italy.