There will be a key match in the opening round of games in Group D on Saturday, as Wales begin their post-Gareth Bale era with a trip to Croatia. Both sides will be front-runners for a place in the top two, but which nation will kick start their EURO qualifying campaign with a win?
EURO 2024 Qualifier Preview
Croatia has so often been a nation worth considering when major tournaments get underway, and they will likely come into this campaign with the experience to ensure that they won’t get dragged into any unnecessary fights. Croatia once again enjoyed another stellar World Cup campaign at the end of 2022, as they finished third overall, meaning that they have reached at least the last four in each of the previous two editions of the tournament.
However, reaching the EUROs has been a bit more troublesome. They have finished second in two of the previous three qualification periods, and they picked up just five wins from eight matches when qualifying for EURO 2020. But, their form from 2022 is extremely challenging to question, as they lost just two matches in 16.
Wales finally made their return to a major tournament for the first time since 1958 in Qatar, but they failed to pick up a single victory from three matches as they crashed out in the group stage. However, Rob Page will be hopeful that the first taste of competition football will give his players the confidence to achieve that feat again.
However, they will need to achieve it without Gareth Bale, who announced his retirement from the sport following Wales’s exit from the World Cup. The nation will also need to put a poor run of form behind them, as they picked up just two wins from 12 matches throughout 2022.
Croatia vs Wales Head to Head
Wales has never previously beaten Croatia in six previous meetings. However, the most recent meeting saw the sides share a 1-1 draw in 2019. Still, Croatia has picked up four wins from the previous five clashes between the nations.
Croatia vs Wales Prediction
It will be fascinating to see how Wales play in their first match without Bale. However, we struggle to see past a very experienced Croatia side on Saturday. We could see the hosts kicking off their qualification campaign with a straightforward 2-0 win.
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