Croatia win over Israel would all but ensure progress

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The Independent Football

England will await news of Croatia's tie with Israel in Zagreb this evening with mixed feelings. A Croatian win would all but ensure their qualification leaving England with a straight fight against Russia, who do not play today, for the second spot from Group E. Yet it would also, assuming Croatia take a further point from their penultimate match in Macedonia, mean Slaven Bilic's team would arrive at Wembley on 21 November with nothing to play for.

Bilic is without several senior players, notably captain Niko Kovac, but the Israelis, who could revive their own faltering qualification hopes with a shock win, are much more affected by withdrawals. Coach Dror Kashtan has struggled to put together two full teams for practice.

Yossi Benayoun, one of the few fit senior players, said: "Croatia are a better team than us, they are in excellent condition and there is no question that they are the favourites. We will do whatever we can to try to get a good result, but it won't be the end of the world if we don't win."

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