MX23RW : Tuesday, July 27 14:01:52| >> :600:1485898:1485898:
Nov 17, 2020 at 7.45pm UK
CroatiaCroatia
2-3
PortugalPortugal
Kovacic (29', 65')
Rog (23'), Perisic (57')
Rog (51')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Dias (52', 90'), Felix (60')
Ronaldo (54')

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

Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Nations League clash between Croatia and Portugal, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Croatia will be desperate to stave off relegation to League B in the Nations League when they face off against Portugal in their final group game on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the visitors have little to play for after their hopes of finishing top of League A Group 3 were dashed by France on matchday five.


Match preview

Croatia players celebrate Mario Pasalic's goal against Turkey on November 11, 2020© Reuters

Croatia's 2020-21 Nations League campaign has been a torrid affair for a country who reached the World Cup final two years ago. With only three points taken from a possible 15, Tuesday's hosts are at real risk of dropping down to League B ahead of the final matchday in the group.

Being placed into a group with world champions France and European champions Portugal always promised to be a daunting task for Zlatko Dalic's side, whose solitary victory in League A Group 3 came against Sweden last month.

Croatia could therefore have been forgiven for feeling optimistic about their chances of another victory against a Sweden side who had lost their opening four matches, but Dalic's men became the Swedes' first victims at the weekend as they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at the Friends Arena.

As things stand, Croatia and Sweden are level on points, head-to-head record and goal difference, with the 2018 World Cup runners-up sitting above Sweden courtesy of a higher number of goals scored, with Dalic's men notching up seven strikes compared to a mere three for their relegation rivals.

Anything other than a victory for Croatia leaves the door open for Sweden to try to climb out of danger, but while Dalic's side are up against it themselves on Tuesday, Sweden are certainly not expected to come away from their encounter with France with something to show for their efforts.

Portugal manager Fernando Santos on May 28, 2018© Reuters

Meanwhile, Portugal's Nations League crown is slowly slipping off. The defending champions have missed out on a place in the finals after suffering a 1-0 defeat to France in their penultimate group game.

The ever-reliable Rui Patricio, who made a number of top-drawer saves on the night, palmed a shot straight at the feet of N'Golo Kante, who made no mistake to send Les Bleus through at the expense of Portugal.

Fernando Santos's men realistically have nothing to play for in their final group match - France are three points ahead and cannot be caught owing to their superior head-to-head record - meaning that the Portugal manager may be tempted to tinker with his lineup on Tuesday.

However, the current champions will no doubt want to go out with a win despite already being guaranteed to finish second, with Santos already sure to have one eye on next year's European Championships as Portugal endeavour to launch a successful defence of that crown.

Matchday one saw Portugal overcome Croatia with ease by four goals to one, with Joao Felix, Andre Silva, Joao Cancelo and Diogo Jota all on the scoresheet on that occasion.

Croatia Nations League form: LLWLL
Croatia form (all competitions): LWWLDL

Portugal Nations League form: WWDWL
Portugal form (all competitions): WDDWWL


Team News

Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Ruben Neves pictured on July 8, 2020© Reuters

Croatia will be forced into a couple of alterations in defence for this crucial game, with Marseille centre-back Duje Caleta-Car suspended after picking up his second booking of the group phase last time out.

Dejan Lovren was forced to miss out against Sweden due to a suspension of his own, but the former Liverpool man is sure to come back in to partner Marin Pongracic in the heart of Dalic's defence.

Right-back Filip Uremovic was forced off through injury against Sweden and it remains to be seen if he will be involved on Tuesday, with Josip Juranovic ready to deputise if required.

Meanwhile, Portugal have no injury or suspension concerns whatsoever for their trip to Split, but Santos could make a few changes with little on the line and no need to take any unnecessary risks.

Jota, who has been in electric form for Liverpool, could be handed a start, while Wolverhampton Wanderers trio Nelson Semedo, Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho will all be vying for spots in Santos's first XI.

Croatia possible starting lineup:
Livakovic; Juranovic, Pongracic, Lovren, Barisic; Modric, Kovacic; Brekalo, Vlasic, Perisic; Budimir

Portugal possible starting lineup:
Lopes; N. Semedo, Dias, Duarte, Guerreiro; Pereira, Neves, Fernandes; Trincao, Ronaldo, Jota


SM words green background

We say: Croatia 1-2 Portugal

Croatia have it all to lose in this encounter, whereas Portugal are simply playing for pride. The hosts will name a couple of changes in defence, which could have Cristiano Ronaldo and co licking their lips at the prospect of a few more goals against their midweek opponents. We expect Portugal to recover from their loss to France to take the spoils in this one, but with Sweden facing off against Les Bleus on the same night, we do not expect Croatia to be relegated.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 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.Over 1.5:data

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Tuesday's key events


TRIATHLON
· Team GB trio Vicky Holland, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Jess Learmonth all have realistic medal hopes in the women's event (10.30pm-1am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· After an impressive opening day, Great Britain play their final group game against a Fiji side level with them at the top of the pool, but also yet to hit their brilliant best (1.30am)

TAEKWONDO
· After disappointment for friend and housemate Jade Jones, Bianca Walkden will go for gold in the women's +67kg category (2am-2.30pm)
· Mahama Cho is another medal contender for Team GB in the men's +80kg class (2am-2.30pm)

SWIMMING
· Team GB's Duncan Scott has the chance to claim his first individual Olympic medal in the men's 200m freestyle final. Teammate Tom Dean is also involved. (2.43am)
· Kathleen Dawson is the Team GB representative in the women's 100m backstroke final (2.51am)

DIVING
· Eden Cheng and Lois Toulson will look to emulate Tom Daley and Matty Lee's success in the women's 10m synchro final (7am-8am)

EQUESTRIAN
· Three-time Olympic champion Charlotte Dujardin is part of a Team GB team going for gold in the dressage team Grand Prix final (9.30am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Superstar Simone Biles leads the United States side in the women's team final (11.45am-2.10pm)

FOOTBALL
· Team GB's women's team play their final group game, taking on Canada with qualification for the knockout rounds already secured (12pm)

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