Croatia got off to a good start in the European Championships with a solid 1-0 win over Turkey, while the Czech Republic lost to Spain by the same scoreline.
Czech Republic felt hard done by after a solid defensive showing. Croatia could afford to drop points here, but the Czech Republic can’t. Crunch game for both of these eastern European sides.
Croatia captain Darijo Srna will reportedly start on Friday despite the death of his father during their 1-0 win over Turkey on Sunday. Ante Čačić is therefore expected to keep the faith with the same XI that performed so well against Turkey in their Euro 2016 opener.
The biggest quality of the Czech Republic is that they are a real team and [Tomáš] Rosický is their most important player.
The Czech Republic need points, but expect their opponents to have the same approach they had against Turkey. The Czech Republic are not weaker than Turkey, they played a decent match against Spain and they are coming into this game in good spirits. But Croatia need to go for a victory in every match and it will be the same tomorrow.
David Lafata could be preferred to Tomas Necid, as the Czechs look to ring the changes following their defeat by Spain. Former Arsenal playmaker Tomas Rosicky retains his place and will hope to inspire from midfield, despite his advancing years.
With Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic in the side, Croatia have one of the best midfield double acts in the competition and are fancied by some as the serious dark horses to go all the way. These two nations have only met on two occasions but Croatia won both of those, including a 4-2 win last time they faced in 2011. Croatia look set to make it two wins from two here and set up a huge final group game against Spain to decide who finishes top of Group D.
For Čačić, a repeat of the display against Turkey would be very welcome. Will he choose the same XI? Public opinion would suggest he should, but it may not be Čačić’s way; in his eight matches in charge of Croatia – and his 41 at the Dinamo Zagreb helm – he never sent the same XI onto the pitch twice in a row. He may elect to keep the style and formation intact but refresh the personnel.