Croatia vs France: Preview and Prediction

Despite Karim Benzema’s goal, France started their campaign with a 2-1 defeat against Denmark

Croatia and France will cross swords on the second matchday of 2022-23 UEFA Nations League’s Group A1 matches. Though these two teams are the favourites to top their group, they are currently occupying the bottom two places.

France started their opening encounter against Denmark on a positive note, with their attackers causing the opposition’s defense a lot of problems. It was Didier Deschamps’ team that scored first, but a brace from Andreas Cornelius handed them a 2-1 defeat.

On the other hand, Croatia would not have taken absolutely any positives from their first encounter, as they were handed a surprising 3-0 drubbing by Austria. Zlatko Dalic will be hoping for a much more committed performance from his players in this match.

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France’s defeat against Denmark was completely unexpected, as it was their first-ever defeat since November of 2020. Les Bleus were on a run of seven consecutive triumphs before losing against Kasper Hjulmand’s team.

Deschamp’s men defeated two African opponents in Ivory Coast and South Africa before coming into this tournament, whilst as for their previous five consecutive victories, they defeated Finland twice and got the better of Belgium, Spain and Kazakhstan on one occasion each.

Like their opposition, Croatia’s defeat against Austria was not on the cards as well, as their previous defeat was way back in June of last year, against Spain in the 2020 UEFA European Championship. Before coming into this competition, Dalic’s men were on a run of nine unbeaten fixtures.

They won six of these fixtures – against Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Russie and Bulgaria. Besides that, the Blazers also secured three draws – against Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia. The 3-0 defeat on Friday was also the first instance where Croatia conceded more than two goals in a match since that defeat against Spain.

Head to Head Record

The head-to-head records between these two teams are inclined massively in France’s favour. Les Bleus have won six of the eight matches they have played against Croatia, with the other two matches ending in stalemates.

The last meeting was back in October 2020, in the previous edition of the UEFA Nations League. France secured a 2-1 victory in that game, courtesy of goals from Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe. As for Dalic’s team, Nikola Vlasic scored the only goal.

Team News

Christopher Nkunku might replace the injured Kylian Mbappe in the French line-up

Christopher Nkunku might replace the injured Kylian Mbappe in the French line-up

Deschamps will be missing some of his most reliable players in this fixture owing to injuries. Central defender Raphael Varane and winger Mbappe were both injured in the defeat against Denmark and are unlikely to recover in time for this game.

Accordingly, Presnel Kimpembe is expected to deputize in Varane’s position, while RB Leipzig’s in-form attacker Christopher Nkunku could replace Mbappe. Besides that, we can expect another change in Les Bleus’ line-up. Kingsley Coman did not look particularly impressive in the last match and he could be replaced by Jonathan Clauss.

As for Dalic, he is expected to miss only one player in Ivan Perisic, as the new Tottenham Hotspur signing is yet to regain match sharpness. Given the importance of the match, we can see quite a few changes in the Croatian starting XI.

Starting with the defense, Marin Pongracic and Borna Sosa are likely to be ditched for the more experienced duo of Domagoj Vida and Borna Barisic. Coming fresh off a UEFA Champions League triumph, Luka Modric is expected to replace Marcelo Brozovic, while in the attacking contingent, Vlasic and Mislav Orsic are expected to be included at the expense of Lovro Majer and Josip Brekalo. To complete the overhaul, Dominik Livakovic is expected to return under the sticks, with Ivica Ivusic being dropped to the bench.

Predicted Starting Lineups

France (3-4-1-2): Hugo Lloris; Jules Kounde, Presnel Kimpembe, Lucas Hernandez; Jonathan Clauss, N’Golo Kante, Aurelien Tchouameni, Theo Hernandez; Antoine Griezmann; Karim Benzema, Christopher Nkunku.

Croatia (4-2-3-1): Dominik Livakovic; Josip Juranopvic; Duje Caleta-Car, Domagoj Vida, Borna Barisic; Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic; Nikola Vlasic, Mario Pasalic, Josip Brekalo; Andrej Kramaric.


While both teams have started their campaign on a poor note, France is head and shoulders ahead of their opposition in terms of both squad strength and head-to-head records. Hence, we have predicted Deschamps’ team to return to winning ways by beating the Blazers.