Croatia, after their impressive win over Turkey, are in a position to clinch a berth in the round of 16 with a victory over the Czech Republic on Friday. However, the Czechs are a tough nut to crack as Spain found out in their last encounter. Their defending was right up there and the Spain players like Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Alvaro Morata could not penetrate their solid defence much.
Czech Republic may need to come up with a similar defensive strategy against Croatia, who possesses some brilliant talent in their team as well. The Narodak might have shown their defensive skills, but Croatia will once again test them as they were an impressive unit while going forward against Turkey. Luka Modric's 25-yard strike was enough for his team to defeat Turkey, but thefinishing needs to improve on Friday.
Croatia, despite their dominant game against Turkey, had 19 shots on goal, and only converted one, which they need to correct upon. The team normally revolves around Modric as the Real Madrid star is the key player. Croatia have a brilliant midfield comprising of Modric and Rakitic, however, their striker Mandzukic needs to look sharper in their second Euro 2016 match.
The match calls for an entertaining clash with Croatia players Modric, Ivan Perisic, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic trying to unlock Czech defence. Compared to such talented stars, Tomas Rosicky and Petr Cech are the ones the Czech Republic will look to for inspiration.
This match is a crucial one for both teams in the group stage, hence, Pavel Vrba (Czech Republic coach) and Ante Cacic (Croatia) will need to come up with their best starting XI, which can help produce positive results.
Both the teams do not have any major injury concerns ahead of this Euro 2016 match. Croatia are expected to feature Darijo Srna, who has come back after attending his father's funeral. Key defender Vedran Corluka will also be available for the match, despite injuring his his head in their last game.
Once again, Tomas Sivok and Roman Hubnik will play an integral role at the back in Vrba's team, but the coach may be tempted to play Marek Suchy, who is available after missing the first game due to suspension. Besides their defence, Czech Republic, to a large extent, will depend on their best player, Tomas Rosicky. The former Arsenal man needs to bring all his experience, and play an integral role in the midfield, providing perfect balls to Tomas Necid, who will lead the line.
Expected lineup: Czech Republic: Cech; Kaderabek, Sivok, Hubnik, Gebre Selassie; Darida, Plasil; Dockal, Rosicky, Krejci; Necid.
Croatia: Subasic; Srna, Corluka, Vida, Strinic; Badelj, Modric; Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic; Mandzukic.