Croatia will look to seal their place in the knock-out round of the World Cup this Thursday when they take on Belgium at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
Venue: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium (Al Rayyan)
Croatia are unbeaten in their last eight games (W6, D2).
They have kept four clean sheets in their last eight games.
Croatia are unbeaten in the last nine games when Andrej Kramarić has netted for them (W6, D3).
Croatia have scored first in four of their last five games against sides currently ranked inside FIFA’s top ten (W3, D1, L1).
Belgium have lost four of their last ten games (W5, D1).
World Cup trivia: In 2018, Croatia became the first team to make the World Cup final after their three previous games went to extra time.
Head to head
Croatia has three wins in eight games between both sides, while Belgium also has three wins.
Latest performances in all competitions
Croatia put one foot in the knock-out stage of the World Cup when they came from a goal down to defeat Canada 4-1 last time out.
Zlatko Dalić’s side conceded after 67 seconds when Alphonso Davies found the corner. But goals from Andrej Kramarić, Marko Livaja and Lovro Majer gave them the win and extended their unbeaten run to eight games in all competitions (W6, D2).
The result put Croatia top of Group F, ahead of their more illustrious opponents Belgium who are ten places ahead of them in FIFA rankings.
However, despite being top of the group, nothing is guaranteed, and everything is to play for as both sides can still top the group. But Croatia holds the advantage as they’re one point ahead (W1, D1) and will guarantee a place in the next round if they fail to lose here.
Possible Croatia starting lineup
Dominik Livakovic, Josip Juranovic, Dejan Lovren, Josko Gvardiol, Borna Sosa, Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic, Marko Livaja, Andrej Kramaric, Ivan Perisic.
Despite being beaten by Morocco last time, Belgium can still qualify for the next round of the World Cup if they win this game.
The Red Devils were fortunate to edge out Canada 1-0 in their opener but were beaten 2-0 by Morocco last time, which reportedly sparked rioting in Brussels, Antwerp and even Amsterdam.
They will have to overcome another challenge, this time on-field, as they take on the 2018 runners-up. Worriedly, Belgium manager Roberto Martínez said his side played against Morocco with “the fear of losing” – a far from ideal mindset, knowing defeat will see Belgium crash out of the tournament.
But having the better of recent H2Hs against Croatia (W2, D1) might put them in a better mindset to win here even though none of those games produced more than three goals, as Belgium need a result and Croatia still needs to guarantee progression.
Such high stakes could lead to a more open affair. In fact, the emphasis is on Belgium to push forward, as a draw is only good enough in the unlikely event that Canada beats Morocco by three clear goals.
Possible Belgium starting lineup
Thibaut Courtois, Thomas Meunier, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Timothy Castagne, Axel Witsel, Youri Tielemans, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Thorgan Hazard, Romelu Lukaku.
|Croatia to win||Draw||Belgium to win|
Croatia 2-1 Belgium
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