AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR PREVIEW: Croatia v England

England and Croatia have little room for error in their second Nations League game, but both might find themselves too evenly matched for anything more than a point. The pair met in the semi-finals of the World Cup where they ended level after 90 minutes and they appear to be on a similar playing field in their rematch. The atmosphere will be a little different though – the ‘ghost match’ is being played in front of an empty stadium after a UEFA sanction against Croatia.

Croatia have since seen Danijel Subasic and striker Mario Mandzukic retire, whilst injuries have ruled out first-choice left-back Ivan Strinic and midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, but they have a far superior midfield to England in the shape of Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric and Mateo Kovačić who has made an extremely impressive start to life in the Premier League.

That ought to prevent them from suffering a similar ordeal to their 6-0 defeat at the hands of Spain, who also beat England – although they were pushed much closer by Gareth Southgate’s side, who appear to be in good shape. They will feel as if they perhaps should have made the most of their fast start in the semi-final but do come with better-attacking options as Raheem Sterling returns to the fold and Harry Kane has begun to score again for Tottenham.

Sterling’s return for England doesn’t match up to his return for City, but he still provides an attacking outlet and Marcus Rashford has been one of few bright lights in a dismal season for Manchester United so far and they can get at a Croatia defence that looks vulnerable based on post-World-Cup evidence.

Croatia v England
UEFA Nations League Group Stage
19:45, Rijeka, Live on Sky Sports Main Event HD

(Maximum 10 matches)
JUL 2018 WORLD CUP Croatia 2-1 England
SEP 2009 WORLD CUP QUALIFIER England 5-1 Croatia
SEP 2008 WORLD CUP QUALIFIER Croatia 1-4 England
NOV 2007 EURO 2008 QUALIFIER England 2-3 Croatia
OCT 2006 EURO 2008 Croatia 2-0 England
JUN 2004 EURO 2004 QUALIFIERS Croatia 2-4 England
AUG 2003 FRIENDLY England 3-1 Croatia
APR 1996 FRIENDLY England 0-0 Croatia

England have not triumphed in a competitive game since their 2-0 success over Sweden in the World Cup quarter-finals and given the mismatches in various areas, a draw looks the best option.

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