MX23RW : Friday, June 18 21:40:21| >> :120:6152:6152:
Jun 1, 2021 at 5pm UK
CroatiaCroatia
1-1
ArmeniaArmenia
Perisic (24')
Rebic (53')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Angulo (72')
Terteryan (39')

Preview: Croatia vs. Armenia - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Tuesday's International Friendlies clash between Croatia and Armenia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Croatia begin their preparations for this summer's rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament on Tuesday when they welcome Armenia to the Gradski Stadion for a friendly encounter.

The visitors enter this battle on the back of an impressive five-game winning streak, but they will not be competing on the international stage at the European Championship this summer.


Match preview

Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic on March 27, 2021© Reuters

Croatia did not have it all their own way in a Euro 2020 qualifying group which they were expected to breeze through, but with 17 points accrued from 24 on offer, the 2018 World Cup runners-up secured top spot in Group E by a three-point margin over closest challengers Wales.

Zlatko Dalic's side had a Nations League campaign to forget last term, but the road to Qatar 2022 has started in ideal fashion with two wins from three fixtures in March, as a surprise 1-0 defeat to Slovenia preceded victories over Cyprus and Malta as they sit level on points with Russia at the top of the rankings.

A weakened Croatia team could only get over the line against Malta by sending on the big boys in Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Josip Brekalo - who all netted as second-half substitutes - and Dalic will be well aware that his side cannot afford to turn off for the opening 45 minutes this summer.

Indeed, Croatia will renew hostilities with England in their Euros group three years after breaking their hearts in the World Cup semi-finals, while Scotland and the Czech Republic occupy the other two spots in Group D, but it would still be a shock not to see the Chequered Ones not secure a top-two ranking.

Dalic's side must also prepare for a daunting friendly battle with Belgium on June 6 before the European Championships gets underway, so a comfortable win over Armenia would be the perfect tonic to calm the nerves ahead of the summer, but their opponents have developed a recent taste for success.

Armenia's Joaquin Caparros pictured on March 25, 2021© Reuters

In contrast, Armenia were never expected to challenge for a top-two berth in a Euros qualification group which comprised Italy, Finland and Greece, and Joaquin Caparros's side ultimately succumbed to a fifth-placed finish as their long wait for a major tournament appearance continues.

However, Armenia's bid to book their plane tickets for Qatar has started better than even the most ardent of supporters could have hoped, as three consecutive victories over Liechtenstein, Iceland and Romania sees Caparros's men sit at the top of World Cup Qualifying Group J - three points clear of Germany after their shock defeat to North Macedonia.

A successful Nations League campaign means that Armenia enter this week's friendly with Croatia on a seven-game unbeaten streak across all competitions, and with no European Championships to take into account, the pressure is firmly off the visitors as they endeavour to keep that momentum going.

Caparros has affirmed that there are no "friendly" matches when it comes to international football, though, and an equally taxing trip to Sweden awaits for his side on June 5, but the signs are promising for Armenia before the real tests begin in September's World Cup Qualifying matches.

Tuesday's battle represents the first-ever meeting between Croatia and Armenia, and with the prospect of the hosts keeping some key players in reserve so as not to risk any unnecessary injuries, a shock result for Caparros's men is not out of the question.

Croatia International Friendlies form:
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • D

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

Armenia International Friendlies form:
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • D

Armenia form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W



Team News

Mateo Kovacic in action for Chelsea on July 14, 2020© Reuters

Croatia coach Dalic has affirmed that he will not fix what is not broken with their standard 4-2-3-1 setup, but Mateo Kovacic will certainly be spared on Tuesday after his late arrival from the Champions League final.

Veteran defender Dejan Lovren has seen his knee ligament injury flare up again and is unlikely to be risked with the Euros in mind, while Dalic has also expressed concern over Ante Rebic's fitness.

Domagoj Bradaric will link up with the senior team after completing his duty with the Under-21s in their European Championship, and that is also the case for uncapped Dinamo Zagreb defender Josko Gvardiol.

Armenia boss Caparros has opted for a more youthful setup to his team, and Roma playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan took to social media to voice his displeasure at not being called up for the friendly matches.

Mkhitaryan claimed that the reasons given for his absence were not "convincing", but fellow midfielder Gevorg Ghazaryan - who boasts 14 goals for the national team - is included after shaking off an injury.

Cadiz defender Varazdat Haroyan is also included but will miss their next World Cup Qualifying match with North Macedonia through suspension, so up-and-coming defenders such as Albert Kachumyan and David Terteryan can feel confident about their chances of international debuts as Caparros plans ahead.

Croatia possible starting lineup:
Livakovic; Juranovic, Vida, Caleta-Car, Barisic; Brozovic, Badelj; Vlasic, Modric, Orsic; Petkovic

Armenia possible starting lineup:
Yurchenko; Terteryan, Haroyan, Calisir, Bayramyan; Barseghyan, Grigoryan, Muradyan, Ghazaryan; Adamyan, Miranyan


SM words green background

We say: Croatia 2-0 Armenia

Armenia are certainly the ones with the wind in their sails heading into this friendly encounter, and they can afford to play with the handbrake off at the Gradski Stadion.

Dalic may use this opportunity to give his less-experienced players a run-out before the Euros kicks off, but the Chequered Ones should still march to a convincing win on Tuesday.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals 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.Under 3.5:data


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How you voted: Croatia vs Armenia

Croatia
63.3%
Draw
14.3%
Armenia
22.4%
98
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North Macedonia's Eljif Elmas celebrates scoring against Germany on March 31, 2021
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