MX23RW : Sunday, December 9 20:33:01
Nov 18, 2018 at 2pm UK at ​Wembley Stadium
Attendance: 78,221
England
2-1
Croatia
Lingard (78'), Kane (85')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Kramaric (57')

How Croatia shape up ahead of Sunday's England encounter

How Croatia shape up ahead of Sunday's England encounter
© Reuters
The World Cup finalists kept alive their Nations League hopes with a dramatic 3-2 win over Spain.

Croatia come to Wembley on Sunday for the final Nations League group game against England, with both teams still able to qualify as winners or be relegated in bottom spot.

Following a goalless draw behind closed doors in Rijeka last month, the two sides will go head to head again as England look to get the better of the team which ended their 2018 World Cup dream in Russia.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a closer look at Croatia, who finished as runners-up to World Cup winners France last summer.

Form

Croatia's Tin Jedvaj scores against Spain. (AP)
Croatia defender Tin Jedvaj scored a dramatic late winner as Spain were beaten 3-2 in Zagreb. (Darko Bandic/AP Photo)

After beating Gareth Southgate's side in Moscow, Croatia went on to lose the final 4-2 to France. The first post-World Cup fixture was a 1-1 friendly draw against Portugal in Faro. The new Nations League began in lamentable style for Croatia as they were thrashed 6-0 by Spain in Elche. Luis Enrique's side had beaten England 2-1 at Wembley and swept past the World Cup finalists – who suffered the heaviest defeat in their history.

Croatia regrouped on the back of a battling goalless draw against England behind closed doors in Rijeka, which was followed up by a 2-1 friendly win over Jordan. On Thursday night, a dramatic finish in Zagreb saw defender Tin Jedvaj score a stoppage-time goal, his second of the game, to secure a 3-2 win over Spain and keep Croatia's hopes of reaching the Nations League Finals alive as they next head to Wembley.

Coach

Zlatko Dalic had a fairly humble playing career, the defensive midfielder's best days arguably coming during his time at Varazdin. Having coached in club football in Croatia, Albania and the Middle East, he was appointed national team coach in October 2017 – and said he would only remain in the job if he led the country to the World Cup finals.

He did that by securing a place in the play-offs before defeating Greece, and would then steer Croatia to a first major final.

Tactics

Having deployed a 4-1-4-1 formation for much of the World Cup, Dalic has been trialling 4-2-3-1 recently, with Hoffenheim forward Andrej Kramaric leading the line against Spain on Thursday night.

The creativity within the side flows through the midfield pairing of Luka Modric, the FIFA men's player of the year, and Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic. With Mario Mandzukic now retired, the frontline position is up for grabs, and Kramaric laid down a marker to start again at Wembley with a goal against Spain.

Players

Modric is the jewel in the crown of Croatian football – the 33-year-old Real Madrid ace wresting the title of best player in the world away from the recent monopoly of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

As well as the former Tottenham man, England must also be aware of the threat from Rakitic and Inter's Ivan Perisic to unlock the defence. At the other end, Liverpool's Dejan Lovren will be out to keep England captain Harry Kane quiet.


Click here for more stories about Luka Modric

Click here for more stories about Croatia

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Harry Kane in action for Spurs in the Champions League on October 3, 2018
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