Croatia vs Czech Republic: Context
Croatia will be hoping for a much better game against the Czech Republic than they showed against England last Sunday.
The likes of Luka Modric, Matteo Kovacic and Ivan Perisic were all unable to have any real impact on Gareth Southgate’s squad and looked a side lacking in idea and creativity.
Their opponents meanwhile could not have had a better and more inspiring start to the competition winning 2-0 in Hampden Park against Scotland.
The star of the show was Bayer Leverkusen striker Patrik Schick who scored a brilliant header and an even better second from just inside the Scottish half.
It is probably fair to say that Croatia keeper Dominik LivakoviÄ will be staying on his line.
Should the Czech Republic get anything from the match they would be a safe bet to earn progression into the next round despite having England still to play. Meanwhile, if Croatia fail to win, an incredible amount of pressure will fall on the Scotland game in Glasgow.
Croatia vs Czech Republic: H2H
The pair have only met on three occasions and the record stands firmly in Croatia’s favour.
2 wins and a draw from the 3 ties, however the most recent and only clash for 10 years in the 2016 European Championships ended in a 2-2 draw.
After Croatia took a 2 goal lead with goals from Perisic and Ivan Rakitic, the Czech Republic came back and scored in the 76th and 90th minutes with Milan Skoda and Tomas Necid firing home.
Only Darida is expected to keep his place from that side from 2016 with Croatia expected to see Perisic, Modric, Brozovic and Vida all take to the field once again.
Croatia vs Czech Republic: Key battles
Zlatko Dalic was not impressed with his side’s lack of bite against England and could shake up the front line. Josip Brekalo came on for Kramaric in the wide areas and did add an element of dynamism that had been missing.
Boril, the Czech left-back, will need to ensure he isn’t caught out of position against whoever starts on the Croatian right.
Schick is of course the danger man for the Czechs but his aerial threat will certainly be matched by the towering Vida in the back row. He may need to rely on his technical ability.
Whoever wins the aerial battle though could be what decides this tie.
Croatia vs Czech Republic: Subplots
The two sides have very little in common regarding fellow teammates. In fact there are no players that play for the same team across the nations other than within their own country.
However, there are a number of links for players that have played against one another within their own leagues. The Croatians have a number of Serie A talent especially at the two Milan clubs in Brozovic, Perisic and Ante Rebic.
The Czechs do have some players from Italy too one starting example being Jakub Jankto who plies his trade in Sampdoria.
The opportunity to see both teams play with little knowledge of their opponents could lead to an interesting affair either going the way of caution or all-out-attack. We of course hope it is the latter.
Croatia vs Czech Republic: Predicted line-ups
Croatia: Livakovic, Vrsaljko, Vida, Caleta-Car, Gvardiol, Brozovic, Modric, Kovacic, Brekalo, Perisic, Rebic.
Czech Republic: Vaclik, Coufal, Kalas, Celustka, Boril, Soucek, Kral, Darida, Masopust, Jankto, Schick.
This article was edited by Benjamin Newman.