Top-of-the-group Croatia host Hungary in a key Euro 2020 qualification clash in Group E, with just a point separating the two teams.
Stadion Poljud , Split, Croatia (Hrvatska)
Key Stat: Hungary's win against Croatia when they last met, was actually their first since the break-up of Yugoslavia.
Expert Verdict: Croatia lead Group E but slipped up with a draw against Azerbaijan last time out. Nevertheless, with Hungary coming into this game on the back of a loss and with suspension and injury issues, the hosts can claim all three points.
Matej Mitrovic has had to drop out of the squad due to injury, while Andrej Kramaric is a long-term absentee. Marko Rog is also missing from the squad selected to face Slovakia and Azerbaijan last month. Ivan Rakitic and Mateo Kovacic are back in midfield, however, and in-form Mislav Orsic is pushing for another start after his good goalscoring record with Dinamo Zagreb this season.
Luka Modric – His penalty against Azerbaijan was his 15th career goal, while his performances at the World Cup showed just how important he is to this Croatian side.
Ivan Perisic – The Bayern Munich man scored in the win against Slovakia last month to move to 24 international goals in 84 appearances for Croatia.
Ivan Rakitic – The Barcelona midfielder was missed last time out, as Croatia struggled to break down stubborn Azerbaijan. His return could boost their creativity and control in the middle.
Croatia have been inconsistent in this Euro 2020 qualifying group, losing to Hungary and drawing with Azerbaijan in their most recent game – Luka Modric scoring a penalty in a 1-1 draw – but beaing Slovakia and Wales in between those games. Last month’s 4-0 win in Slovakia saw Nikola Vlasic, Ivan Perisic, Bruno Petkovic and Dejan Lovren find the net.
Defenders:Karlo Bartolec, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Bona Barisic
Defensive Midfielders:Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic
Attacking Midfielders:Ivan Perisic, Mateo Kovacic, Mislav Orsic
Hungary will be without both Botond Barath and Adam Nagy because of suspension. Barath was sent off late on in the defeat to Slovakia last month, while Nagy picked up his third yellow card of the campaign in that game too. Mate Patkai and Barbabas Bese have also withdrawn from the squad through injury. Mihaly Korhut and David Holman could be the replacements in the starting XI.
Domink Szoboszlai – The teenager opened his goalscoring account for the national team last time out and continues to catch the eye with Red Bull Salzburg too.
Adam Szalai – Now with Mainz, the striker has scored 20 goals in 57 international appearances for Hungary.
Balazs Dzsudzsak – The hugely experienced captain remains a key figure in this team, having now passed 100 caps and scored 21 international goals.
Victory against Croatia in March was the first of three consecutive wins for the Hungarians but they lost both matches they played in September. Montenegro came from a Filip Holender goal down to win 2-1 in a friendly, before Dominik Szoboszlai’s goal at home to Slovakia could not prevent another 2-1 loss. Botond Barath’s late red card rubbed salt into the wound.
Defenders:Gergo Lovrencsics, Mihaly Korhut, Willi Orban, Tamas Kadar
Midfielders:Balazs Dzsudzsak, Laszlo Kleinheisler, Dan Holman, Roland Sallai
Forwards:Adam Szalai, Dominik Szoboszlai
Hungary’s 2-1 win in March was their first against Croatia since the break up of the former Yugoslavia. Their previous three matches had ended in draws, while Croatia beat them in three consecutive matches before that. Last time out, Ante Rebic gave Croatia the lead but Adam Szalai and Mate Patkai scored to give the hosts victory in Budapest.
Croatia have been inconsistent in this group including defeat to Hungary, but they remain in charge in top spot with three games to play.
Two of those matches will be at home too, so Croatia are in the driving seat and the return of Ivan Rakitic and Mateo Kovacic are timely boosts as they look for more midfield creativity.
Hungary, by contrast, started brightly but defeats in their last two matches – one friendly, one qualifier – have halted their momentum.
They are only a point behind Croatia, but injuries and suspensions have hampered them ahead of this game too and they start this much very much as outsiders.
Croatia convincingly beat Slovakia before their draw with Azerbaijan last time out to prove what they are capable of when everything ticks.
The frustrating away draw was unbecoming of the World Cup runners-up – even as they rebuild in the wake of that run to the final in Russia in 2018.
They can prove they are still favourites for this group in this game, however – the return of Rakitic and Kovacic, combined with some impressive domestic performances from their Dinamo Zagreb contingent give them plenty of options in an attacking sense.
Hungary’s run of form has hit the buffers and Croatia need to take full advantage.
Croatia are a best price of 4/11 to beat Hungary with Bet365 and Ladbrokes, as the group leaders look to stay in charge of Group E.
Each of Hungary’s last two defeats have seen them score, however, and both teams to score in this match could be worth backing at 5/4 with 888sport.
Over 2.5 goals has been set at a best price of 20/23 with Betfair, meanwhile.
Bruno Petkovic could lead the line for Croatia, and he has been listed as favourite – at a best price of 13/8 with Betfair and Paddy Power – to score at any time.
At home, Croatia know a win in this game will keep them firmly in control of their own destiny in Group E with just two games remaining.