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Preview: Croatia vs. Czech Republic - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's European Championship clash between Croatia and Czech Republic, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Croatia will aim to bounce back from their opening Euro 2020 defeat to England when they take on the Czech Republic at Hampden Park on Friday in Group D.

In contrast, Jaroslav Silhavy's side have quickly risen to the top of the group after easing to a 2-0 victory to Scotland during their inaugural game of the tournament.


Match preview

Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic on June 13, 2021© Reuters

England had never won any of their opening European Championship games before Croatia paid a visit to a bouncing Wembley last Sunday, as the Chequered Ones travelled to the English capital aiming for a repeat of their 2018 World Cup success over Gareth Southgate's side.

The Three Lions had the better of the first half without any real penetration in the final third - barring an early effort from Phil Foden which struck the woodwork - but in the 57th minute, man of the match Kalvin Phillips found Raheem Sterling in acres of space, and the Manchester City man prodded home past Dominik Livakovic.

Zlatko Dalic's men have struggled to maintain their reputation as world-beaters since collecting World Cup runners-up medals in Russia three years ago, and defeat on the opening day sees Croatia occupy third spot in the group with two games left to play - a standing that may yet be enough to progress to the knockout rounds.

Croatia have now picked up a measly two wins from their last 10 games in all competitions, and Dalic has an added incentive to avoid defeat at Hampden Park, as the Chequered Ones have gone 10 major tournaments without losing their second game - winning six and drawing four of their such games so far.

Furthermore, it has been 25 years since Croatia opened their European Championship campaign with back-to-back defeats, but even though they are 26 places higher than the Czech Republic in the FIFA World Rankings, Silhavy's men are the ones with the wind in their sails.

Czech Republic manager Jaroslav Silhavy on June 14, 2021© Reuters

Scotland fans travelled to Hampden Park with an unrivalled sense of optimism at seeing their beloved nation back on the major stage for the first time in 23 years, but the Tartan Army's buoyant mood was quickly ruined by the Patrik Schick show on matchday one.

Without influential defender Kieran Tierney manning the rearguard, Scotland were 1-0 down on the 42-minute mark as Schick headed home his country's opener, and the Bayer Leverkusen forward would proceed to unleash an outrageous effort from 50 yards to propel the Czech Republic to a 2-0 win.

A two-goal victory for Silhavy's side means that they currently occupy top spot in Group D, but it would be a surprise to see them stay there as England seek to keep their momentum going, while upcoming opponents Croatia can blow the group wide open with victory on Friday.

Schick may very well have already claimed the award for the goal of the tournament, but the job is far from done for the Czech Republic, who are aiming to open their European Championship campaign with back-to-back wins for only the second time ever.

However, the Czech Republic have failed to win any of their previous three meetings with Croatia, and the two sides will be locking horns nearly five years to the day that they played out a 2-2 draw at Euro 2016.

Croatia European Championship form:
  • L

Croatia form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • L

Czech Republic European Championship form:
  • W

Czech Republic form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W



Team News

Croatia's Luka Modric reacts after the match on June 13, 2021© Reuters

Dalic confirmed that Rangers left-back Borna Barisic missed out against England due to injury and he will not be back just yet, but Dejan Lovren should be given the green light after a positive MRI scan on his knee problem.

Talisman Luka Modric is also expected to be fit despite training individually earlier this week, and Dalic is reportedly considering partnering the Real Madrid man with Mateo Kovacic in a midfield two, which would see Marcelo Brozovic drop to the bench.

An extra spot in the attack would therefore be up for grabs, and while Ivan Perisic ought to keep his place on the left, it is a free-for-all for the other three attacking spots as Bruno Petkovic, Nikola Vlasic and Josip Brekalo hope to be given the chance to impress.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic have no fresh concerns from their impressive victory over Scotland, but injured goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka has been replaced in the squad by Augsburg's Tomas Koubek.

Schick's brace on matchday one represented his seventh and eighth goals in his last nine starts for the Czech Republic, but highly-rated teenager Adam Hlozek will still be vying for some valuable minutes from the bench.

Croatia possible starting lineup:
Livakovic; Vrsaljko, Vida, Caleta-Car, Gvardiol; Modric, Kovacic; Brekalo, Vlasic, Perisic; Petkovic

Czech Republic possible starting lineup:
Vaclik; Coufal, Kalas, Celustka, Boril; Soucek, Kral; Masopust, Darida, Jankto; Schick


SM words green background

We say: Croatia 1-1 Czech Republic

Croatia have options in abundance up top as Dalic hopes to get his frontmen firing as soon as possible, and it would be a surprise not to see the fired-up Chequered Ones hit the back of the net at the second time of asking.

Scotland had their moments against the Czech Republic, and while the momentum is certainly with Silhavy's side, we think Croatia will do enough to bag a point - a result which would be much more favourable for the Czechs, however.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or draw in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Draw:data


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How you voted: Croatia vs Czech Republic

Croatia
59.4%
Draw
24.0%
Czech Republic
16.6%
1158
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Croatia's Ivan Perisic celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates in front of a fire engine and crew on June 1, 2021
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Croatia Euro 2020 preview - prediction, fixtures, squad, star player
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