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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

Maksimir Stadium (ATT 18,000) 16th October 2012 - Kick off 19:00 Ref: A Tudor

Croatia Croatia vs Wales Wales

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M Mandzukic (27)
Eduardo (58)

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Wales 0

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Croatia v Wales preview

Chris Coleman's side looking for second successive victory

Last Updated: 16/10/12 11:08am

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Wales will head to Croatia for their fourth 2014 World Cup qualifier on Tuesday brimming with confidence and optimism.

Opta Stats

  • Wales have lost six of their last seven away games in all competitions, winning the other 1-0 in Bulgaria back in October 2011.
  • Croatia have only won two of their last five matches at home.
  • Croatia have won one and drawn one of their previous two matches against Wales.

After losing their opening two games in Group A to Belgium and Serbia, the Dragons looked to have lost their way in the qualification campaign.

However, Gareth Bale inspired Chris Coleman's side to a 2-1 comeback victory over Scotland at the Cardiff City Stadium on Friday, scoring two goals in the final 10 minutes.

That win has put Wales back in contention for a place in the World Cup finals in Brazil, and Coleman is hoping that the Tottenham Hotspur winger stars at Stadion Gradski vrt as well.

Devastating

"We've got options with Gareth," he said. "He can be devastating when he plays out wide and cuts inside his full-back.

"But it's always an option to play him in the centre. We're missing Aaron [Ramsey] at the wrong time really.

"Gareth knows where he can hurt the opposition. When you have good players you don't want to pigeon-hole them.

"Look where he got the winning goal [against Scotland] from - yet he was playing on the right side for us. But when he runs through the middle he can cause other teams problems."

Important win

Croatia, though, are likely to be better prepared to combat the 23-year-old especially at home.

Igor Stimac's side are unbeaten in Group A with two wins and a draw, picking up seven points from three matches.

Croatia are second to Belgium only on goal difference and will head into the clash with Wales on the back of a 2-1 away win against Macedonia.

Coach Stimac has taken involving fans to a whole new level, asking them on Facebook to help him choose his squad for Tuesday's match, and is desperate for a win.

"The points against Wales are as important as those we have already won," he said. "We will do all that is necessary in order to win them, and regardless of the Welsh optimism after beating Scotland, do not expect a different outcome.

"We must take initiative to control the game and force Wales to continually defend and thus thwart their creativity. Victory is our obligation."

Team News

Croatia are likely to deploy the same starting XI that got the better of Macedonia on Friday, with Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric in midfield and Nikica Jelavic and Mario Mandzukic leading the attack.

Wales are without the suspended midfielder Ramsey, who has been replaced by David Edwards.

Defender Adam Matthews remains a doubt with an ankle injury, but Darcy Blake is likely to overcome a knee injury.

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Matches

  • FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

    Tue 16th Oct - Group F
    Tue 16th Oct - Group I
    Tue 16th Oct - Group G
    • Latvia
      2 - 0
      Liechtenstein
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      TV
    • Bos&Herz
      3 - 0
      Lithuania
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      TV
    • Slovakia
      0 - 1
      Greece
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      TV
    Tue 16th Oct - Group D
    Tue 16th Oct - Group A
    Tue 16th Oct - Group B
    Tue 16th Oct - Group E
    Tue 16th Oct - Group H
    Tue 16th Oct - Group C

Tables

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Belgium 10 26
2 Croatia 10 17
3 Serbia 10 14
4 Scotland 10 11
5 Wales 10 10
6 Macedonia 10 7

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Italy 10 22
2 Denmark 10 16
3 Czech Republic 10 15
4 Bulgaria 10 13
5 Armenia 10 13
6 Malta 10 3

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Germany 10 28
2 Sweden 10 20
3 Austria 10 17
4 Republic of Ireland 10 14
5 Kazakhstan 10 5
6 Faroe Islands 10 1

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Netherlands 10 28
2 Romania 10 19
3 Hungary 10 17
4 Turkey 10 16
5 Estonia 10 7
6 Andorra 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group E

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Switzerland 10 24
2 Iceland 10 17
3 Slovenia 10 15
4 Norway 10 12
5 Albania 10 11
6 Cyprus 10 5

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Russia 10 22
2 Portugal 10 21
3 Israel 10 14
4 Azerbaijan 10 9
5 Northern Ireland 10 7
6 Luxembourg 10 6

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group G

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bosnia and Herzegovina 10 25
2 Greece 10 25
3 Slovakia 10 13
4 Lithuania 10 11
5 Latvia 10 8
6 Liechtenstein 10 2

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 England 10 22
2 Ukraine 10 21
3 Montenegro 10 15
4 Poland 10 13
5 Moldova 10 11
6 San Marino 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Spain 8 20
2 France 8 17
3 Finland 8 9
4 Georgia 8 5
5 Belarus 8 4

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