Wales v Croatia: Chris Coleman's side must win to keep World Cup hopes alive
Wales must beat Croatia on Tuesday to keep their hopes of World Cup qualification alive.
Last Updated: 26/03/13 6:58pm
Wales v Croatia
A 2-1 victory at Hampden Park moved Chris Coleman's side to within seven points of second place in Group A - a position held by Tuesday's opposition - but having lost three of their five games so far, there is no more room for error.
A win over the Croats would also inject both confidence and belief into the team that they can reach Rio given that two of their last four matches are against struggling Macedonia.
However, taking three points off Igor Stimac's men is far from a forgone conclusion. Wales were soundly beaten 2-0 at the Stadion Maksimir in October, which was one of four wins the Croats have already notched up in the group so far.
Indeed, the only points they have dropped were in a closely fought 1-1 draw against table-toppers Belgium in September.
History is also against the Welsh, who are yet to beat Croatia in their three meetings to date (two defeats, one draw) and have registered back-to-back wins in qualifying campaigns just three times since 1998, the last being 18 months ago.
And it also can't be forgotten that Croatia are just as desperate for a win as Wales are. They are locked on the same number of points as the Belgians and, with crunch reverse fixtures against Serbia and Belgium still to come, they will have identified their trip to the Liberty Stadium as a must-win match.
They can also call on the services of Real Madrid's Luka Modric, who caused havoc in the win over the Welsh earlier in the campaign.Gareth Bale is expected to be fit to face Croatia after recovering from the stomach virus problems that forced him off at half-time against Scotland on Friday.
The Tottenham Hotspur winger trained on Sunday and Monday and is expected to play at the Liberty Stadium.
Jack Collison will not figure after being pulled out of the squad due to his inability to play twice in four days as he continues to recover from long-term injury, while Aaron Ramsey is unavailable through suspension. In their place, Leicester City's Andy King and Crystal Palace's Jonny Williams are both set to start.
Croatia manager Igor Stimac is expected to be without Niko Kranjcar after the former Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth midfielder picked up a knee injury.
He is likely to be replaced with Josip Radosevic or Inter Milan's Mateo Kovacic.
Stimac also has to decide whether to play veterans Josip Simunic, 35, and Ivica Olic, 33, for a second successive match. Domagoj Vida and Everton's Nikica Jelavic are both waiting in the wings should they drop out.