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WC Qualification Europe

  • 26 March 2013
  • • 19:45
  • • Liberty Stadium, Swansea
  • Referee: L. Banti
  • • Attendance: 12534
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Wales - Croatia Preview: Qualification hopes for Coleman's side hanging by a thread

Wales - Croatia Preview: Qualification hopes for Coleman's side hanging by a thread

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A win for the hosts will see them close to four points behind Igor Stimac's men with four matches to go, but defeat will effectively end their already slender hopes

  PROBABLE LINEUPS

WALES

Myhill
Gunter, Ricketts, Williams, Davies
King, Ledley, Collison, Bale 
Bellamy, Robson-Kanu
CROATIA
 
Pletikosa
Srna, Corluka, Vida, Strinic
Vukojevic, Radosevic
Modric, Rakitic

Mandzukic, Jelavic

Chris Coleman should not have to contend with too many injuries for the visit of Croatia, but two key men will definitely miss out.

A red card against Scotland means Aaron Ramsey will be unavailable, while Joe Allen (shoulder) is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

However, Coleman does have some good news as Gareth Bale and David Vaughan are both available.

Igor Stimac will likely make changes to the side that beat Serbia, with veterans Ivica Olic and Josip Simunic both appearing against Sinisa Mihajlovic's side, while the latter is also carrying a knock.

Defender Simunic has been given the all-clear to play, but Stimac may not risk the 35-year-old and instead pick Domagoj Vida, while Olic's replacement will most likely be Nikica Jelavic.

Elsewhere, Niko Kranjcar (knee) is expected to miss out meaning that Josip Radosevic could take his place, or Mateo Kovacic may play in a slightly different role.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • If Wales pick up a win on Tuesday, they will be four points behind Croatia with four matches to play.

  • After the win over Scotland, a victory against the Croatians would see Wales complete back-to-back competitive wins for the first time since Gary Speed's final two matches in charge.

  • The last time the two sides met, Igor Stimac's side came out on top with a 2-0 win.

  • Croatia dominated proceedings when they faced Wales in October, maintaining 76 per cent of possession.

  • Tuesday's match will be only the second time these sides have played each other in competitive competition.

  • Josip Simunic, Stipe Pletikosa and Darijo Srna could all win their 102nd caps against Wales.

  • Sixty per cent of Wales' goals in this qualification campaign have come in the final 15 minutes of matches. Croatia, however, have not scored at all in that section of matches.

Players to watch

G. Bale

Position: Midfielder

Games: 7

  • 4
  • 1
  • 0
Against Scotland, Bale was forced off at half-time, but he is expected to be fine for the crucial tie against Croatia and his presence could be essential. Right-back Srna remains a key component of Croatia's attacks, therefore Wales will hope that Bale can either help keep the Shakhtar Donetsk man grounded or exploit the space he leaves.

L. Modrić

Position: Midfielder

Games: 11

  • 0
  • 3
  • 0
With Wales missing two key men in midfield, Croatia will hope to exploit that area in particular with the likes of Luka Modric. As Ognjen Vukojevic sits and break down Wales attacks in the middle, Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Co. will have further freedom with regards to getting forward and creating chances.

Editor's Prediction

The hosts will be under no illusions as to the importance of this match, with a loss essentially ending their hopes of qualification. Nevertheless, the absence of key men in midfield - Croatia's strongest area - could prove fatal.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Wales

Croatia

Wins
0
1
3
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Wales WAL
Wales Wales
Draw
Croatia HRV
Croatia Croatia
25%
66%

Top 3 Predictions

Wales WAL
0 - 2
Croatia HRV
Wales WAL
1 - 2
Croatia HRV
Wales WAL
1 - 3
Croatia HRV

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