Venue: Poljud Stadium, Split, Croatia
Timing: 12.15 am IST, 8.30 pm Croatia time
Where to watch: All Euro 2016 Qualifying matches can be seen on Sony Six with live streaming option on
In a mighty clash between the top two teams of Group H in UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifier, both the teams promise to put up a challenging show for each other.
Coming off with an extra win than Italy, Croatia will look to replenish their wins. They have acquired four wins out of five matches with the one drawn match coming against Italy when they met at San Siro, last year.
Niko Kovac will have to make do without the support of their fans at Poljud stadium in Split due to an ongoing one-match crowd ban on Croatia. It was imposed on them after their fans hymned racist comments during their 5-1 home triumph over Norway back in March, 2015.
Playing in an empty stadium without the support of their fans would certainly be a huge disadvantage for the home sides, but that couldn’t serve as a reason to not win today.
Croatia has sported tremendous physical as well as mental strength in all of their group stage matches. However, Friday’s showdown will see the home team without Real Madrid star, Luka Modric, owing to his prolonged injury and Lokomotiv Moscow’s Vedran Corluka due to suspension.
Although there is a chance that the match will be drawn the string of injuries that plague the Italian side is definitely advantageous for Croatia.
Key players like Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, Simone Zaza and Luca Antonelli will be out of action due to injury.
Expert goalkeeper and captian, Gianluigi Buffon who recently finished as the runners up of UEFA Champion’s League with Juventus, has an elbow injury. However, Italy is still hoping he can step up to their rescue.
Under the guidance of Antonio Conte, who replaced Cesare Prandelli in Brazil after last year’s World Cup, Italy acquired five wins and three draws.
Kavoc will expect his Barcelona midfielder, Ivan Rakitic to shine in the same way he did in the Champion’s league final against Juventus. Coincidentally, he scored the opening goal for the Catalan giants against Buffon who is Juventus’ goalkeeper.
It’s hard to say who’ll win as the chances lie fifty-fifty for both sides. However, a drawn match could just be on the way. and it’ll be penalty shots which may decide the outcome of the game.