17 November 2019
Croatia welcome Slovakia to the Stadion HNK Rijeka in the 2020 UEFA European Championship Qualifying (ECQ), looking to seal a place in next summer’s competition.
A point here would be sufficient for the home side to qualify for the final tournament, as they have a four-point lead on third-placed Slovakia ahead of their final ECQ fixture. The 2018 FIFA World Cup runners-up have won all three of their previous ECQ home games, two of which have come via the same 2-1 scoreline. Particularly dangerous five minutes before and after the halftime break, the Blazers have bagged three of their total seven home goals scored so far in that sequence. Another encouragement for the home fans is that Croatia have run out winners in three of their five H2H meetings with Slovakia, friendlies included (W3, D2). In fact, Zlatko Dalic’s men have hammered the Falcons 4-0 in the reverse fixture, with two of those goals coming between the 40th and 50th minute.
Meanwhile, the visitors have a mountain to climb here, as they sit two points adrift of second-placed Hungary, although they do have a game in hand on the Magyars. Slovakia’s inconsistency has seen them win three of their opening five qualifying matches while losing the remaining two. Their sole draw arrived during the last international break, when they played out 1-1 home stalemate with Wales. However, the Falcons boast the best away record in Group E (W2, L1), having scored seven of their total ten goals on the road. Also, they’ve netted precisely one goal in the first 15 minutes of the second half in both of their previous ECQ trips after breaking the deadlock in the first half.
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