World Cup qualifiers: Wales v Croatia match preview

A look ahead to tonight’s World Cup Qualifier at the Liberty Stadium

Wales manager Chris Coleman will be hoping for another invaluable three points as his Welsh side chase Group A’s pacesetters Belgium and Croatia. Following their win at Hampden Park on Friday, Coleman’s side have now won three from their last four and will be hoping to further their prospects of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

However, the only Welsh defeat in their last four games came at the hands of the Croats – a 2-0 defeat in October 2012. With Gareth Bale expected to be fit, Coleman is now instead focusing on his injury crisis in central midfield.

Following Aaron Ramsey’s late dismissal against Scotland in Glasgow, Wales now have five central midfielders unavailable. The Arsenal midfielder joins Collison (knee), Vaughan (groin), Allen (shoulder), Edwards and Croft (both hamstring) on the sidelines. Tudur Jones has been called up as a replacement.

With Bale set to play, this game heralds his reunion with former Tottenham teammate Luka Modric. The midfield maestro, who left north London for Real Madrid last summer, dictated much of the reverse fixture and has been pinpointed by Coleman as the man to watch. “On his day, he is unstoppable”, the Welshman conceded.

 

KICK-OFF: Tonight, 7.45pm

 

PAST THREE MEETINGS...

Croatia 2 (Mandzukic, Eduardo) Wales 0, World Cup Qualifier, October 2012

Croatia 2 (Rakitic, Gabric) Wales 0, International Friendly, May 2010

Croatia 1 (Petric) Wales 1 (Davies), International Friendly, August 2002

 

STATS...

Last October, Wales had just three attempts on target, to Croatia’s 17.

Wales have only qualified for the World Cup on one occasion, reaching the Quarter Finals in 1958.

Croatia’s eight goals so far in this campaign have been scored by seven different players (Mandzukic has 2)

 

ODDS...

Wales to win: 5.9

Croatia to win: 1.74

Draw: 3.85

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