The presence of a resurgent Spain team in Group 4 of UEFA Nations League A is bad news for Croatia and England, with one of the latter sides in line to be relegated to League B come the end of November.
The key to who remains among the European elite and who drops down a level is heavily dependent on the outcome of this match, with Croatia having experienced a pistol-whipping at the hands of La Roja last month after England were previously turned over by the same team at Wembley.
It’s the Blazers who have a type of home advantage on Friday and BetVictor chalk up 17/10 that they claim a maximum haul in Rijeka although there won’t be any fans to celebrate this inaugural Nations League win.
The match at the Stadion Rujevica is being played behind closed doors, with an attendance of zero already being logged by match officials for what should make for an eerie atmosphere for both sets of players.
Perhaps it’s something that England can capitalise upon, with Gareth Southgate hoping that his team can gain some kind of revenge for that World Cup defeat which denied the Three Lions the chance to compete in the final against Russia.
Unibet are now offering 19/10 that Southgate’s team leave with a maximum haul and they might be able to capitalise on low morale within the Croatia camp after a 6-0 mauling in Elche that nobody really expected.
The draw would be a reasonable outcome for the visitors and it’s likely to mean that a win against the same opponents at Wembley would preserve their top tier status for the next round of games against different opponents.
William Hill have 11/5 about the match ending all square and we could see a tight encounter considering that prestige is at stake for both teams, while the defensive parts of the England squad look to be stronger than any other department.
Bet365 have chalked up 13/2 about No Goalscorer and we could see that being a result that would please both teams who are looking to be defensively stout and illustrate that they can be organised against tough opposition.
Perhaps the difference between the sides will be in the midfield department and we’re likely to see the superlative Luka Modric pulling the strings and the Croatia captain is 10/1 with Coral to score first which looks a big price considering he takes the penalties for his national side.
For England, Gareth Southgate wants Raheem Sterling to improve his games-to-goals ratio and Bet365 offer 17/2 that the Manchester City forward breaks the deadlock in this game after experiencing another frustrating return to Anfield on Sunday.
The bookies anticipate a low-scoring encounter and Paddy Power go 4/7 that there are Under 2.5 Goals, while some punters might be even braver and punt on the Under 1.5 Goals option at 15/8 with Betfair.
Whichever team scores the opening goal will be desperate to preserve their lead and we like the idea of Croatia scoring and then keeping the ball in that midfield area which also boasts Ivan Rakitic.
With this in mind, a 1-0 winning scoreline in favour of the home side can be backed at 13/2 with Unibet. England don’t have much experience within the ranks and this could ultimately prove to be the difference.