The top two teams in Group H of Euro 2016 qualifying will be squaring off against each other this Friday, June 12 as Croatia hosts Italy at Stadion Poljud in the city of Split. Croatia enters the match as the group leaders with 13 points after five games while Italy sits in second spot with 11 points. Croatia is undefeated so far with four wins and a draw while the Italian squad has three victories and a pair of draws. Croatia also has a big lead when it comes to goal differential as they’re plus-13 with 15 goals scored and two allowed. Italy has scored eight times and conceded four for a plus-four rating.
Croatia vs Italy
- Euro 2016 Betting Preview – bet365 lists Croatia as the favorites to win the game at 5/4 with Italy 12/5 and a draw at 21/10
This is a huge game for Italy since a loss means they could be overtaken by third-place Norway, who have nine points. The Norwegians are followed by Bulgaria in fourth place with five points, Azerbaijan with three and last-place Malta with one point. Croatia has met Italy eight times in the past at the senior men’s level with three wins, a loss and four draws. However, they haven’t managed to beat Italy at home as of yet with a pair of draws in their two encounters in Croatia. Two of those contests came at major tournaments with the teams playing to a 1-1 draw at Euro 2012 and Croatia winning 2-1 at the 2002 World Cup in Japan.
The two countries met back in November in Euro 2016 qualifying and played to a 1-1 draw in Milano, Italy. Italy took the lead after 11 minutes when Antonio Candreva scored, but Ivan Perisic pulled the Croatians level just four minutes later. Croatia is currently enjoying a seven-game unbeaten streak against Italy. The last time the Italians managed a victory over them was back in 1942 when Croatia was still part of the former nation of Yugoslavia. Italy managed a 4-0 win in that game, which was the first between the two nations.
Croatia typically struggles when they play at the Stadion Poljud in Split as they’ve won just one game there, which was a 2-1 decision over Georgia in a Euro 2012 qualifying clash. They’ve also lost three games there and have drawn the other six. One of the draw was a 1-1 stalemate against Italy in Euro 96 qualifying. Overall, Italy is unbeaten in their past eight outings with five wins and three draws since being eliminated from last year’s World Cup in Brazil in the group stage. Croatia has also played well in their last eight with six victories, a loss and a draw. Their lone defeat came by a 2-1 score at the hands of Argentina last November.
Italy has an excellent record in qualifying games for European Championships and World Cup tournaments. They’re unbeaten in their past 45 qualifying contests with 33 wins and 12 draws. Their last loss came back in 2006 when they dropped a Euro 2008 qualifying match in France by a score of 3-1.