Ace Football previews the UEFA Nations League match between Croatia and Portugal, and offers betting tips, odds, line-ups, and team news.
Survival is on the target for Croatia as they welcome Portugal to the Poljud Stadium for one last Nations League game in Group A3.
Grabbing even a draw could spare them relegation into League B. It really is an all-or-nothing situation, as Croatia have it all to lose in this one. But while Portugal have little left to play for now, Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates are determined to restore some pride after their title defense ended last weekend.
The visitors won the corresponding fixture 4-1 last time out through goals from Joao Felix, Andre Silva, Joao Cancelo, and Diogo Jota.
It should be a fairly open game in Split between the 2018 World Cup finalists and 2016 European champions – even if the visitors rest a few stars.
Croatia Form & Stats
Three points from five Nations League games is a poor return for Croatia. They may have been World Cup finalists two years ago, but that is long gone now and a battle for survival in League A is the reality.
A 2-1 loss to Sweden last weekend was a costly blow in Group A3. Both sides are level on points in third, but Zlatko Dalic’s side sit above their Scandinavian foes on a superior goal count. Avoiding defeat to Portugal, therefore, is necessary unless Sweden lose to France in the other group fixture.
Dalic implied in his pre-match conference that the Vatreni will take a more aggressive approach from the start against Portugal. The head coach, however, confirmed he will be without several players and stated plans to tune Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic more into the attack for this decisive match.
The return of Dejan Lovren is a welcome boost for Dalic ahead of the match. Although positive COVID-19 tests have lost him the likes of Andrej Kramaric, Domagoj Vida, and Marcelo Brozovic.
And a poor head-to-head record, on top of their recent struggles and loss of key players, suggests trouble for Croatia.
Key Team Stats
- Lost five of their last six Nations League games (W1).
- Won four of their last five home games in all competitions.
- Winless in six games against Portugal in all competitions (D1 L5).
- Josip Brekalo has provided three goals and three assists in his last six games in all competitions.
- BTTS in their last 10 games in all competitions.
Portugal Form & Stats
Losing 1-0 to France last weekend saw Portugal relinquish their hold of the Nations League crown in their penultimate group match. Rui Patricio pulled off some brilliant saves in an otherwise poor display. But the goalkeeper’s one error was all it took for N’Golo Kante to snatch a winner in Lisbon.
The European champions no longer have anything to play for in the competition. France have won the top spot in Group A3 with a three-point advantage and a superior head-to-head record. Therefore, Fernando Santos could make a few tweaks to his line-up.
The most obvious question is whether the head coach will start Ronaldo. He gave nothing away in his pre-match conference, but he assured the team won’t prioritize helping the Juventus ace close in on all-time international goalscoring record.
Although Santos will have to make do without the injured Raphael Guerreiro, Renato Sanches, and Pepe.
Key Team Stats
- Won five of their six games against Croatia in all competitions (D1).
- Won 11 of their last 15 games in all competitions (D2 L2).
- Lost just one of their last nine away games in all competitions (W6 D2).
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 17 goals in his last 13 appearances for Portugal.
Croatia: Bruno Petkovic, Andrej Kramaric, Duje Caleta-Car, Domagoj Vida, & Marcelo Brozovic (out).
Portugal: Raphael Guerreiro, Renato Sanches, & Pepe (out).
(Note: The image will change to the official XI once they’re both announced)
Top Goalscorers in Recent Games
Croatia and Portugal have faced each other six times previously since June 1996. The visitors have won five times, drawn once, and never lost.
Below are the five most recent meetings and some head-to-head stats on the team’s recent form in the Nations League.
|19/06/1996||Croatia vs Portugal||0-3||Euro 96|
|12/11/2005||Portugal vs Croatia||2-0||Friendly|
|10/06/2013||Croatia vs Portugal||0-1||Friendly|
|25/06/2016||Croatia vs Portugal||0-1||Euro 2016|
|06/09/2018||Portugal vs Croatia||1-1||Friendly|
|05/09/2020||Portugal vs Croatia||4-1||Nations League|