Czech Republic vs Croatia: The Vatreni seeking a quarter-finals spot

Croatia
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Croatia will be intending to book their spot in the quarter-finals as they prepare to take on the Czech Republic at the  Stade Geoffroy Guichard on Friday evening.

A Luka Modric stunner was enough to give the Vatreni a win in their opener against Turkey. It was also a bit of sweet revenge for Croatia against the side that had ended their Euro 2008 campaign. With three points in the bag, Ante Cacic’s men can now guarantee a quarter-finals berth if they can beat the Czech Republic this Friday.

Next up will be Spain, so Croatia will want to take care of business this Friday. Group D is indeed shaping up to be very interesting, as both those sides

This means that it’s still very much an open contest and for Czech fans, their side is very much still in the running for a knockout spot.

Pavel Vrba’s men were truly unlucky in their opener. Despite putting up a valiant effort, they were undone by a late Gerard Pique goal which left them ruing their missed opportunities. Croatia will represent a very familiar, yet unfamiliar opponent, as they have faced off in friendlies, but never in actual competition.

The last time Croatia took on the Czech Republic was back in February 2011, which ended as a 4-2 win in favor of the Vatreni. It was a day to forget for Czech supporters, as it was the first time they had shipped four goals in one match. Obviously, it goes without saying that they will be doing everything they can to avoid a similar drubbing five years later.

For Croatia, so far, so good in terms of personnel. Although Vedran Corluka suffered a horrible head injury during the match against Turkey, he will be all patched up and ready to feature. In addition, skipper Darijo Srna will also likely return to action, despite having to leave the team camp to attend his father’s funeral.

As for the Czech Republic, Pavel Vrba was unable to call on key midfielder Borek Dockal due to injury. The 27-year-old, who plays his football for Sparta Prague, may make a return for this game.

Is this match a “win or go home” for Petr Cech and his colleagues? Thanks to the expanded format, not necessarily. The Czech Republic, so far, have never lost two consecutive Euro championship games. They will be loath to have that happen on Friday.

If they can get one point – and Spain, as expected, beat Turkey – then they will have it all to play for against Turkey. A win, obviously, would be ideal. For Croatia, they, too, will be gunning for all three points. So what does this mean for viewers?

Well, unlike the drab Romania vs Switzerland affair fans were subject to, Croatia vs Czech Republic should be quite entertaining. It may not have tons of goals. But then again, none of the Euro matches so far have. At the end of 90 minutes, another side could be booking their spot in the quarter-finals. Or the other could keep their own qualifying ambitions intact.

Will Croatia or the Czech Republic take one step further at Euro 2016 this Friday?

Michelle Bonsu

Freelance football journalist based in New York. Primarily support AC Milan as well as the Ghanaian and Italian NT’s, but you’ll find me watching the Bundesliga and Premier League as well–enjoy a good game, regardless of where it’s being played. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of my favourite players.