The Chequered Ones were held to a 1-1 draw by the Czech Republic last time out, while Scotland’s goalless stalemate with England felt more like a win for the Tartan Army.
For a side that only fell at the final hurdle at the World Cup three years ago, Croatia’s Euro 2020 campaign has been a truly miserable affair by comparison, as Zlatko Dalic’s men could not recover from their 1-0 loss to England against the Czech Republic.
Dejan Lovren’s expression said it all as his flailing elbow on Patrik Schick was deemed worthy of a penalty by VAR on matchday two, and the Czech hotshot converted to put his side 1-0 to the good, but a well-taken equaliser from major tournament veteran Ivan Perisic ensured that Croatia would not start their Euro 2020 campaign with back-to-back defeats.
It is mathematically impossible for third-placed Croatia to progress as group winners, and England’s victory over the Chequered Ones at Wembley means that they are out of sight, so Dalic’s men must hope for the Three Lions to do them a favour against the Czech Republic while they endeavour to sink Scotland.
However, a draw in Group D’s other fixture would see Croatia’s result against Scotland pale into insignificance, but there is still no better time for Dalic to end his side’s four-game winless streak as they aim to progress as one of the four best third-placed sides.
Then again, Dalic has only overseen two victories from his last 11 games in charge of the Croatian national team – quite the fall from grace after their inspiring summer of football at Russia 2018 – and failure to progress to the final 16 of the continental competition would be nothing short of disastrous.
Scotland’s encounter with England on Friday night certainly did not live up to the pre-match billing, but the ever-joyful Tartan Army revelled in their side’s performance in the English capital, as a motivated Scotland prevented England’s bright attackers from making the net ripple on the night.
Steve Clarke’s men had chances of their own but could not break the deadlock either, although they were full value for their point at Wembley and have been given a new lease of life at the Euros following their opening-day defeat to the Czech Republic.
However, with Scotland still waiting for their first goal of the European Championship, Clarke’s men remain at the bottom of the rankings and must pray for an exceptional set of circumstances to keep their last-16 hopes alive on the final day.
Not since 2004 have Scotland failed to score in three competitive matches on the bounce, but Clarke’s side must find attacking inspiration from somewhere if they are to extend their stay at the tournament, although the prospect of a third-placed finish being enough for a knockout berth is still very much alive.
History could favour the Scots in this tie, though, as Croatia have failed to win any of their previous five meetings with Scotland, and the two most recent clashes between the sides in 2014 World Cup qualification saw Scotland claim 2-0 and 1-0 victories.