Croatia vs Italy. Prediction and Preview. Probable Lineups, Team News, Stats, and more

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Croatia, at a crossroads with just one point from two Euro 2024 matches, confront Italy, buoyed by their resilient form under coach Luciano Spalletti

Croatia will face Italy in the UEFA EURO 2024 3rd-round match of Group B at the Red Bull Arena in Leipzig. The fixture will take place on Tuesday, June 25, beginning at 00:30 IST.

Parimatch News will tell you everything you need to know ahead of the upcoming match.

Croatia News & Current Form: 

The bronze medalists of the FIFA World Cup held in Qatar in 2022, Croatia, find themselves in a difficult position after two group stage matches. The team under the guidance of Zlatko Dalic is currently at the bottom of the group with just one point, trailing Albania due to goal difference.

In their Euro 2024 opener, Croatia out-possessed Spain (54% to 46%), but the scoreboard was grim, showing a 0:3 defeat. Spain scored all three goals in the first half, practically sealing the match’s outcome early. In the second half, the boys of Luis de la Fuente played conservatively but still prevented the opponent from scoring. The Checkered Ones had a real chance in the 80th minute when the striker of GNK Dinamo Zagreb Bruno Petkovic earned a penalty, but his effort was saved by Spanish goalkeeper Unai Simon. Petkovic scored on the rebound, but the goal was disallowed as one of his teammates entered the penalty area.

Balkans did falter during certain stretches, especially in the latter part of the first half, but they didn’t look hopeless. They made 16 shots, missed a penalty, and had an xG of 2.38, higher than Spain’s 2.01. Notably, Croatia broke La Roja’s record possession streak, which had lasted 136 matches since 2008. However, the team received substantial criticism, with players and coaches admitting it wasn’t their best performance and, they needed to play more boldly, faster, and more aggressively.

Having suffered their heaviest Euro defeat since 1996, the Croatian collective was in a precarious situation ahead of their crucial match against Albania. The second game also started poorly for Dalic’s team, conceding an early goal to Qazim Laci in the 11th minute. In the second half, the Checkered Ones turned the game around in two minutes: Andrej Kramaric equalized in the 74th minute, and two minutes later, Albanian midfielder Klaus Gjasula scored an auto goal. However, Croatia couldn’t hold on to the win, conceding a 95th-minute equalizer to Gjasula, resulting in a 2:2 draw.

One of the main problems for the Balkan team is the age of its key players. Luka Modric is nearly 39, Ivan Perisic is 35, and Kramaric turned 33 on the day of the match against Albania. Maintaining the level they showed in the 2018 and 2022 World Cups is challenging, and their younger teammates have yet to match the high standards set by the veterans. The team is undergoing a generational change, and this Euro could end disappointingly for Croatia. A loss to Italy could see them exit the tournament prematurely.

Nikola Vlasic sustained an injury and will miss the upcoming match with Italy

However, the team shouldn’t be underestimated. They reached the UEFA Nations League final almost a year ago, only losing to Spain on penalties after defeating the Netherlands. Dalic has kept the team competitive for a long time, achieving significant success in major tournaments, often not as obvious favourites.

To qualify for Euro 2024, Croatia had to work hard. In a relatively easy qualifying group D, they finished second behind Turkey, competing with Wales for the second spot until the final double matchday. They secured their place by defeating Latvia (2:0) and Armenia (1:0) without much fanfare.

In preparation for Euro 2024, the Balkans played friendly matches against North Macedonia (3:0) and Portugal (2:1). The squad boasts many experienced players whom Dalic will rely on, such as Modric, Mateo Kovacic, Marcelo Brozovic, Manchester City defender Josko Gvardiol is also notable. However, the team approaches the third match without Nikola Vlasic, who is injured.

Italy News & Current Form: 

The reigning European champions, Italy, began the new continental championship in Germany in the worst possible way, conceding a goal to Albania just 22 seconds into the match. It was a self-inflicted wound, as a poor throw-in of Federico Dimarco into his own penalty area was intercepted by Nedim Bajrami, who then fired the ball over Gianluigi Donnarumma into the top corner.

However, the Italians quickly regained their composure and equalized by the 10th minute. FC Inter Milan defender Alessandro Bastoni headed in from close range following a corner kick, levelling the score at 1:1. Six minutes later, the team of Luciano Spalletti took the lead. Bastoni’s club teammate Nicolo Barella capitalized on a deflection in the opponent’s penalty area, scoring with a fine shot to put Italy ahead 2:1. This scoreline held until the final whistle, earning Italy their first three points of the tournament.

Spalletti, who has already made history as the oldest coach in the European Championship, implemented a more aggressive playing style, characterized by frequent vertical passes and quick play in the midfield. Federico Chiesa stood out, consistently beating Albanian defenders. Central midfielders Jorginho and Barella also moved the ball quickly. Defenders Bastoni and Riccardo Calafiori actively supported the attacks, enabling Italy to control the match. The team effectively employed high pressing and rapid transitions from defence to attack.

The Italian squad displayed coordinated actions, tactical flexibility, and high individual player skills. The Azzurri can swiftly adapt to match conditions and alter strategies during the game. However, it is apparent that Spalletti should have been appointed as the national team coach earlier. The manager, who led SSC Napoli to a Scudetto, needs more time to systematize the team’s play.

Bologna FC defender Riccardo Calafiori scored a goal into his own net, and as a result Italian team lost

The match against Spain also began poorly for Italy, as Pedri created a dangerous chance in the second minute. Donnarumma saved Italy by heading the ball over the bar. Spain continued to create several more threatening chances, but the goalie of the Blues remained flawless, preventing any goals. However, early in the second half, Italy had to restart from the centre circle again when Bologna FC defender Calafiori scored an auto goal. It remained the only one of the match for the Azzurri, securing Spain’s victory and guaranteeing their early advancement to the playoffs from the top spot. 

In conclusion, a draw against Croatia will secure second place in the group for Italy and a spot in the playoffs. A loss might still see them through to the playoffs as a third-place team, but losing is certainly not desirable.

Croatia form guide: W-W-W-W-L-D

Italy form guide: W-W-D-W-W-L

Croatia vs Italy Head-To-Head Record:

  • June 14, 2012: Italy 1 – 1 Croatia (UEFA EURO);
  • November 16, 2014: Italy 1 – 1 Croatia  (UEFA EURO);
  • June 12, 2015: Croatia 1 – 1 Italy  (UEFA EURO).

Croatia vs Italy Predicted XI:

Croatia’s possible starting lineup (4-3-3): Livakovic; Stanisic, Sutalo, Gvardiol, Perisic; Modric, Sucic, Kovacic; Pasalic, Budimir, Kramaric.

Italy’s possible starting lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Darmian, Bastoni, Calafiori, Dimarco; Cristante, Barella; Chiesa, Pellegrini, Zaccagni; Retegui.

Statistical preview of the match Croatia vs Italy:

  • The Croatian national team holds 9th place in the FIFA ranking of national squads, while the Italian collective is ranked 10th.
  • Croatia’s First XI average age is 29.3 years, and Italy’s First XI average age is 26.8 years.
  • Danny Desmond Makkelie has been appointed as the centre referee. The match official has already served 42 games this season, showing an average of 3.4 yellow cards.
  • Italy have not lost in 7 of their last 9 matches.
  • In the last 5 games, Croatia conceded an average of 1.60 goals per game while scoring an average of 2.20 goals per game.
  • In the last 5 games, Italy scored an average of 1.00 goals per game and conceded an average of 0.40 goals per game.
  • Croatia have conceded in three games in a row.
  • In the last five matches against Italy, only once have more than two goals been scored.
  • The three previous head-to-head matches between the teams ended with a score of 1:1.

What has been said before the match:

Bruno Petković of Croatia shared his thoughts on the team’s current situation and the upcoming match against Italy, providing insights into their preparations, mindset, and challenges:

“Italy played very well against Albania, dominating the game, but were quite subdued against Spain. We observed some aspects of their game that we could exploit to our advantage. We still have time to analyze, and I’m confident that our team will focus on strategies to cause the most problems for the Italians. They struggled to break out, and I believe Spain performed better against them than we did. However, the result and the gameplay are two different matters.”

“We had some bad luck and perhaps a poor start or approach, conceding a goal at the first opportunity each time. It becomes harder when you start from a deficit. Nervousness sets in, and everything you’ve prepared gets viewed differently. The fault lies with us; we owe it to the fans to perform better and show more determination.”

“I expect and hope for our victory. We are aware of what we did right and wrong in these two games, and we need to correct those mistakes. On Tuesday, our focus should be solely on winning. We have players of great quality and international experience. The most important thing is that we all pull in the same direction.”

“We all strive and want more. We need to show unity, following all tactical ideas together. There has been some criticism towards me or some teammates, but this is a professional sport. The national team is above all else. We are grown men, and we must overcome these issues and move forward.”

“Our goal is for Croatia to achieve the best possible result, and we all give our everything to achieve that. Sometimes, the outcome is different than expected. There have been many instances where we played badly and won, and vice versa. We are aware of what is needed on Tuesday and are ready to face that game.”

Inter Milan winger Matteo Darmian spoke about the team’s approach and attitude ahead of their crucial match against Croatia:

“We are analyzing our performance against Spain to avoid repeating the same mistakes and to get ready for the match against Croatia as best as we can. Disappointment and regret are normal, we wanted to do better, but we faced a very strong attack. I’m convinced we can learn from defeats and avoid making the same mistakes again, aiming to secure a victory that will see us through. We’re not considering that a draw might be enough. It’s wrong to think we have two out of three possible results; we’re going all out to win.”

“It’s not the time to discuss differences between national teams. We need to focus on ourselves and what we have to do in two days, knowing it’s an important match and that we will prepare as best as possible. After a win, we must not get too excited, just as after a defeat we cannot throw everything away and be too down. We must remain balanced, learn from mistakes, improve daily in training, and channel our disappointment into energy and positive anger.”

“We have a squad of high-quality players. It’s not so much the formation or our club play that counts. What matters is what Spalletti asks of us and how we transfer that onto the pitch. I am available to the coach and his choices, which are for the good of the team, and I’ll try to contribute to help the team progress to the next round. We have the capability to advance, and we are determined to do so at all costs.”

Croatia vs Italy Prediction:

Scuadra Adzurra is in a favourable position after two tournament rounds, as Luciano Spalletti’s team only need a draw to reach the 1/8 finals. Still, they should not underestimate the zeal of the Croatians, who have repeatedly proved their unbreakable character in crucial moments at major competitions, which is not the case with the current generation of Italians – Bonucci and Chiellini are long gone from the national team. However, this duo of centre-backs was valued not only for the tremendous experience of playing at the highest level but also for their exceptional reliability. Now the most responsible position for the Italians came on the shoulders of young Calafiori, who had scored the only goal in the last meeting (except it was into the wrong net). Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s right wing also causes concerns – Nico Williams met no resistance from the Napoli defender in the last round. The Croatians, on the other hand, create plenty of chances in attack and in both meetings at this tournament have outperformed their opponents in terms of expected goals (xG) – 2.1 vs 2.0 and 2.6 vs 1.5. 

Will the Italians be able to neutralise Сroatia’s offensive efforts? It seems unlikely, given that the opponents are playing attacking-orientated football and will be much more motivated. The Blues were controlling the match against Albania for most of the time, yet the Eagles did not leave the field without a goal, they managed to daze Federico Dimarco and teammates early in the game. The match with the Spaniards featured only one goal, but the Red Fury were supposed to score more as xG: 1.9 to 0.18 indicates. The Croatians have already played two lively fixtures with plenty of attacking action. Even in the case of a missed goal, the Checkered Ones are 100% certain to keep fighting until the last second of the contest. The Italians will also get their chances in case of an unleashed offence from the Croatian national team. The Balkans have already conceded five goals in the current Euro campaign. 

Still, the unwillingness to take risks will prevail, as the outcome of such an equal footing rivalry will be decided by one goal. Whoever catches their opponents on a mistake first will win the game. And in the previous 3 head-to-head outings Croatia and Italy have played to a draw with the same score of 1:1. It is reasonable to assume that such a trend can continue, we do not expect an abundance of goals here.

Parimatch News staff prediction:

We say: The match total will be less than 3.5 – Yes.