Luka Modric
Luka Modric will miss Croatia's game against Italy on Friday.Reuters

Two top teams of European football, Italy and Croatia will face one another in a crucial European qualifier match at Stadion Poljud, Split on Friday.

Both Croatia and Italy have been in superb form throughout the qualifiers as they stand in the first and second position respectively in group H, which also consists of other teams such as Norway, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan and Malta.

Croatia have been impressive as they have not suffered a single defeat in their last five matches compared to Italy's two.

When these two teams met last November, Croatia held Italy with a scoreline of 1-1. But against other teams, Croatia have been ruthless slotting in goals for fun.

They have scored 15 goals in the qualifiers with Ivan Perisisc being the top scorer for Croatia with four goals. They thrashed Norway, 5-1 in their last game of the qualifiers, so they are a team brimming with confidence.

But the victory was somewhat overshadowed as the Croatia Football Federation were hit by a sanction for racist chant from fans, as a result of which the match between the two will be played behind closed doors, which is a shame for such a big European night.

It might be a subdued night with no fans watching the game, but make no mistake about the importance of the game as Croatia are just two points ahead of Italy in the group standings. Even a draw will help the Croats stand atop of the table.

Croatia coach Niko Kovac does not mind if the game finishes in a draw.

"If in the end it is a draw we will take it with a smile. We will not use [the stadium ban] as an excuse, we will try everything to improve our game and in the end maybe we will take the three points," Kovac told Sportske Novosti.

But Craotia will miss the services of their Real Madrid star, Luka Modric, who has been a pivotal figure for Craotia scoring two goals so far in the qualifiers. Hence, Kovac feels it is not going to be easy against Italy without their influential player.

"Without Luka Modric certainly will not be easy, but in the first game in Milan after a few bruises and injuries we have shown that we can still play well."

If Croatia have been banging in goals right, left and centre, Italy have struggled to find the back of the net even against easy opponents. They drew their last qualifiers match against Bulgaria, 2-2, but lost to Norway, 2-0 and defeated Azerbaijan 2-1, which is not what one can easily associate with the Italian football team.

It is time to step up their game against Croatia, who might prove to be huge threat and the game may all boil down to Croatia's offense and Italy's defense, which has always been top notch.

Where to Watch Live

The Euro qualifiers clash between Italy and Croatia is scheduled for 8:45 local time (12:15am IST, 2:45pm ET, 7:45pm) start with live coverage on Sony Six with online option on livsports.

Viewers in the US can watch it on ESPN2 with live streaming option on Watch ESPN, while viewers in the US can catch the action live on Sky Sports Red Button.

Football fans in Italy and Croatia can watch it live on RAI Uno and HRT 1 respectively.

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