England vs Croatia, Nations League scouting report: What can Gareth Southgate's side expect at Wembley?

The two sides meet on Sunday with everything to play for

Saturday 17 November 2018 13:43
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Gareth Southgate speaks press after 3-0 win over USA at Wembley

Croatia come to Wembley on Sunday for the final Uefa Nations League group game against England with everything on the line.

Croatia's win over Spain on Thursday means both teams are still able to qualify as winners or be relegated in bottom spot so there will be no room for error this weekend.

Following a goalless draw behind closed doors in Rijeka last month, the two sides will go head to head again as England look to get the better of the team which ended their 2018 World Cup dream in Russia.

So what can the Three Lions expect? Here we take a closer look.

Form

After beating Gareth Southgate's side in Moscow, Croatia went on to lose the final 4-2 to France. The first post-World Cup fixture was a 1-1 friendly draw against Portugal in Faro. The new Nations League began in lamentable style for Croatia as they were thrashed 6-0 by Spain in Elche. Luis Enrique's side had beaten England 2-1 at Wembley and swept past the World Cup finalists - who suffered the heaviest defeat in their history.

Croatia regrouped on the back of a battling goalless draw against England behind closed doors in Rijeka, which was followed up by a 2-1 friendly win over Jordan. On Thursday night, a dramatic finish in Zagreb saw defender Tin Jedvaj score a stoppage-time goal, his second of the game, to secure a 3-2 win over Spain and keep Croatia's hopes of reaching the Nations League Finals alive as they next head to Wembley.

Croatia celebrated their dramatic victory in Zagreb

Coach

Zlatko Dalic had a fairly humble playing career, the defensive midfielder's best days arguably coming during his time at Varazdin. Having coached in club football in Croatia, Albania and the Middle East, he was appointed national team coach in October 2017 - and said he would only remain in the job if he led the country to the World Cup finals.

He did that by securing a place in the play-offs before defeating Greece, and would then steer Croatia to a first major final.

Dalic guided his side all the way to the World Cup final last summer 

Tactics

Having deployed a 4-1-4-1 formation for much of the World Cup, Dalic has been trialling 4-2-3-1 recently, with Hoffenheim forward Andrej Kramaric leading the line against Spain on Thursday night.

The creativity within the side flows through Luka Modric, the FIFA men's player of the year. With Mario Mandzukic now retired, the frontline position is up for grabs, and Kramaric laid down a marker to start again at Wembley with a goal against Spain.

Modric remains Croatia's talisman

Players

Modric is the jewel in the crown of Croatian football - the 33-year-old Real Madrid ace wresting the title of best player in the world away from the recent monopoly of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

As well as the former Tottenham man, England must also be aware of the threat from Inter's Ivan Perisic to unlock the defence. At the other end, Liverpool's Dejan Lovren will be out to keep England captain Harry Kane quiet.

There will be no Ivan Rakitic, however. The Barcelona man misses the trip to London through injury.

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