Preview: Croatia vs. Latvia

Preview: Croatia vs. Latvia

Unbeaten after two matches, Croatia welcome Latvia to Stadion HNK Rijeka on Friday as both sides return to Euro 2024 qualifying action.

The hosts occupy third place in Group D – two points shy of the top two – while the visitors find themselves rock bottom of the standings following three straight losses.

While the other teams in Group D have played three of four matches, Croatia have only played twice due to their participation in June’s UEFA Nations League Finals, but the Blazers still find themselves in a strong position after taking four points from a possible six.

Following a 1-1 draw with Wales in their opening qualifier, Zlatko Dalic’s men claimed a 2-0 victory over Turkey in Bursa, with Manchester City new boy Mateo Kovacic bagging a first-half brace to seal the points for his side.

Three months later, the Croatians secured a 4-2 extra-time win against the Netherlands in the semi-finals of the Nations League, although they ultimately fell short in the final, playing out a goalless draw with Spain before losing on penalties.

Still, it is worth noting that Croatia have lost just one of their last 17 encounters inside 90 minutes, suffering a 3-0 defeat to eventual champions Argentina in the World Cup semi-finals back in December before clinching the bronze medal in Qatar.

Since taking over in 2017, Dalic has guided the Checkered Ones to a World Cup final and a World Cup third-place playoff, cementing Croatia’s status as one of the most successful national teams of the modern era.

By contrast, Latvia have failed to win any of their previous eight matches inside 90 minutes, defeating Estonia on penalties in the Baltic Cup semi-finals back in November before suffering spot-kick heartache against Iceland in the final.

Since then, Dainis Kazakevics’s side have recorded four successive defeats, with a 3-2 friendly loss against Republic of Ireland in March preceding three disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying defeats.

After starting their qualifying campaign with a 1-0 loss in Wales, the 11 Wolves endured an agonising 3-2 defeat against Turkey, with Kristers Tobers’s 94th-minute equaliser being cancelled out by Irfan Kahveci’s 95th-minute winner.

Four days later, the Latvians conceded in second-half stoppage time once again as they lost 2-1 against Armenia, although they failed to register a single attempt on target in Yerevan, while the hosts racked up 67% possession and 21 shots.

Given that Lativa have managed to win just 21 of their 75 European Championship qualifiers over the years – recording 13 draws and 41 losses along the way – the Baltic nation looks destined to endure another unsuccessful qualification campaign.

Croatia Euro Champ Qualifying form:

Croatia form (all competitions):

Latvia Euro Champ Qualifying form:

Latvia form (all competitions):

We say: Croatia 3-1 Latvia
Given that Latvia have scored three goals across their last two qualifiers, we can see the visitors finding the back of the net on Friday, but Croatia are expected to outscore the Group D minnows without any problems.

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