Croatia v England: World Cup rivalry renewed in Nations League
Watch Croatia v England live on Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm on Friday
Last Updated: 13/10/18 11:06pm
Old rivalries will be renewed when England take on Croatia in the UEFA Nations League on Friday – a clash which will be played behind closed doors in Rijeka.
Croatia beat England 2-1 in the World Cup semi-final in Moscow as Mario Mandzukic delivered a 109th-minute winning goal in extra time to end Gareth Southgate's team's adventure that captured the minds of a nation.
The teams meet again having both suffered defeats to Spain in their opening Nations League match. Croatia lost 6-0 in Elche while England lost 2-1 at Wembley - another defeat would leave either team in danger of relegation from League A.
England won the last meeting in Croatia 4-1 in Zagreb when Theo Walcott burst onto the scene by scoring a hat-trick.
The ban on fans entering the stadium is part of Croatia's punishment after a swastika was marked on their pitch before a Euro 2016 home qualifier against Italy. There is likely to be about 500 people in the stadium, with about 150 media accredited for the game and a maximum of 75 staff for each team.
Southgate admits it will be a "strange experience" but says England's fans are the ones he feels for.
"It is a shame for our travelling fans who were brilliant for us all summer and so many of whom have not missed an England game for years. So that is unfortunate for them in particular," Southgate said.
"It means Croatia don't get the energy that a home support can give you in those moments when you are under pressure as a team.
"So it will be different definitely. Whether it is an advantage, who knows?"
England are without left-back Luke Shaw, goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, Danny Rose and Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck, all of whom have returned to their clubs with injury.
Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho and Chelsea's Mason Mount, who is on loan at Derby and Leicester City's 21-year-midfielder James Maddison all could make their full debuts.
For Croatia, goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, Mandzukic, Vedran Corluka all announced their retirement from international football after the World Cup. Dominik Livakovic is due to pick up his second cap in goal while Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren and Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic are both set to start as boss Zlatko Dalić has already named his starting line-up.
Luvakovic, Lovren, Vida, Jedvaj, Pivaric, Kovacic, Modric, Rakitic, Perisic, Rebic, Kramaric.
Croatia and England have met on eight previous occasions, with England winning half of those matches (D1 L3).
Croatia won their last meeting with England, in this year's World Cup semi-final (2-1). They last won consecutively against England in November 2007.
Since their 2-1 victory against England at the World Cup, Croatia have failed to win any of their last three games (D1 L2).
England have won their last three away games in all competitions; they last won four in a row back in September 2011.
England have kept a clean sheet in each of their previous three away games - they last recorded four consecutive away shutouts during a seven-game run ending in October 1997.
Ivan Perisic has been directly involved in more goals for Croatia in 2018 than any other player (five goals, one assist).
England captain Harry Kane has failed to find the back of the net in each of his last five games; he's only gone six without a goal on one previous occasion for England (June 2016 to September 2016).
Marcus Rashford has scored in consecutive England appearances for the first time. He's netted as many goals in his last two games for England as he did in his previous 24 (two goals).
These guys have reached a level that even they didn't know they could reach so it's no surprise to see them drop off a bit after that World Cup. Southgate is a bold coach, he's been brave enough to pick a lot of kids so let's see if he's bold enough to play them. I think Croatia are on the slide a bit now, and they're an ageing team as well but they'll always have a chance at home - even if the game will be strange being played behind closed doors.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-1 (6/1 with Sky Bet)