Euro 2016: Czech Republic vs Croatia - Match prediction and head to head
The Czech Republic would need a positive result if they are to qualify for the next round of Euro 2016.
Group D comes to life tonight with all four teams in action during their second round of matches in Euro 2016. The Czech Republic and Croatia square off against at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Etienne followed by Spain vs Turkey. The Czechs travel to Saint-Etienne after their 1-0 loss in the opening fixture against Spain. The Croats, on the other hand, edged past Turkey with 1-0 win and will look to secure their qualification for the next round with a win over the Czech Republic. Things are not all lost for the Czechs as the tournament’s extended format this year will see four of the best third-placed teams making it to the Round of 16. Croatia and Spain are likely to secure the automatic qualification spots from Group D and therefore, Tomas Rosicky and co. will look to make it to the next round as one of the third-placed teams and if they are to delay their flight back to Prague.
Croatia were comfortable 1-0 winners over Turkey in the opening game. A brilliant Luka Modric volley just before half-time was enough for the Croats. They had the lion share of the possession and looked more likely to get the second ahead of the Turks who were chasing the game. Croatia twice rattled the crossbar, with captain Srna’s free-kick hitting the woodwork and Perisic’s header to was denied by the bar.
The Czech Republic were unlucky to let in a late goal against Spain after a brilliant display by Petr Cech in goal. The Czech defence kept a talented Spanish side at bay for 87 minutes before Gerard Pique scored the winner for the defending champions from an Andres Iniesta cross to undo a great performance from Petr Cech.
The Arsenal goalkeeper also brilliantly denied Jordi Alba, Alvaro Morata and David Silva from scoring. The Czech Republic were happy to sit back and defend against Spain and threatened on the counter and Theodor Gebre Selassie came close to scoring but his header was cleared off the line by Cesc Fabregas and Vladimir Darida’s effort to equalize towards the end was parried away by David de Gea.
Head to Head
Czech Republic and Croatia have never faced each other competitively and their encounter on Friday will be the first time they meet at a major tournament. They faced each other only twice previously, with the Croats enjoying the advantage over the Czechs, drawing one and winning the other encounter.
The last time they met was in 2011 in an International friendly and Croatia were 4-2 winners. Czechs haven’t won a game against the Croats and will look to set the record straight in Saint-Etienne.
Pavel Vrba, the Czech Republic coach while speaking to UEFA.com, heaped praises on a talented Croatian side ahead of their encounter.
“Croatia are a little like Spain because there are players from Real Madrid and Barcelona. Most of the team play abroad, so they will be very strong opponents. I think that our group is probably one of the most difficult in this European Championship.”
Ante Cacic speaking ahead of the game at Saint-Etienne said that he understands that the Czechs will look to get points off them but his side will play with the same approach as they did against the Turks.
“The Czech Republic need points against us, but I expect my players to have the same approach they had against Turkey. The Czech Republic are not weaker than Turkey, they played a decent match against Spain and they are coming into this game in good spirits. But Croatia need to go for a victory in every match and it will be the same tomorrow.”
Form Guide (all games, most recent first)
Czech Republic: L-L-W-W-D-L-L-W-W-L
Croatia has some really talented players in their ranks and with the likes of Modric and Rakitic who ply their trades at Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively and Croatian fans will pin their hopes on this midfield duo.
The likes of Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic upfront are real threats to any defence and the Juve and Inter forwards come into the Euros post a great season with their respective clubs and will look to keep their goal scoring touch going in the European Championships.
For the Czechs the onus will be on their defence and Petr Cech to keep a gifted Croatian side at bay and Cech will have to be at his best against the likes of Mandzukic and Perisic with Modric and Rakitic feeding them defence-splitting passes.
Rosicky will have to drive the team upfront and they will have to be way better than they were against Spain if they are to get a positive result out of this encounter.
Croatia however, should have enough to win the game with the same scoreline as they beat the Turks.