Ahh, the international break. You don’t like it but you’ll still find yourself watching the games, we know. Croatia-Wales has plenty of talent on display and it seems like the perfect time to catch some of the rising ballers before they become world-known names.
But even without names such as Sutalo, Sosa, Ampadu, or else… the old guard still has plenty to offer. I’m keeping my eye on the new Sutalo-Gvardiol pairing which has a very high ceiling as they’re both mobile technical centre backs very much capable of playing on the front foot against anyone.
The Modric-Kovacic-Brozovic trio might be slightly past their prime but when things click, there aren’t many midfielders in world football who can control games as well as them.
Both Bale and Joe Allen announced their retirement from international football and a similar “switch” of generations is starting to take place for Wales. Wales have an impressive core of young talent too, with Brennan Johnson particularly impressive.
WHEN & WHERE?
Date: Saturday, 25th March 2023.
Time: 7.45 pm UK
Venue: Croatia; Stadion Poljud, Split
Referee: Joao Pinheiro.
Assistants: Bruno Jesus, Luciano Maia.
Fourth official: Vitor Ferreira.
VAR: Tiago Martins.
Assistant VAR: Luis Godinho.
Croatia have a fully fit team, while Wales had Ben Davies and Wayne Henessey pull out with an injury with Brennan Johnson doubtful.
Croatia are likely to have too much for Bale-less Wales but never count them out. They’ve shown how much of a close-knit unit they can be over the years and it’s going to be interesting to see how they’ll try to fill in the hole left by Bale.
Wales could go with a two up top with Moore as the target man and James as the in-behind runner. Ampadu is likely to anchor the midfield with Ramsey in his usual box-to-box role.
This game will be a massive test for Robert Page’s side as they come up against a team who has only one loss in their last 13 games. Despite being hampered by injuries, they have to keep the distances between lines close and compact in order to stand a chance.
Expect a 3-4-3 of some sort for Wales and the usual 4-3-3 for Croatia.
Unlike Lovren, Modric is still pushing away the national team retirement talk and he’ll lead the side once again. Sutalo should come in for Lovren as the fight for the right centre back spot begins.
Ramsey has been a regular for Nice this season, making an appearance in total of 22 games in Ligue 1. His output isn’t what it once was (1G, 1A) but he still remains a key individual for this Wales team.
Not much more can be said about this footballing legend but Luka still refuses to call it quits with the national team, and rightly so.
Now 37, his physical condition still looks good and he’s truly aged like fine wine. Tehnical leader of this Croatia team and the most capped Croatia player will look to keep this fairytale going for long as possible.
Croatia possible starting lineup: Livakovic; Juranovic, Sutalo, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Vlasic, Kramaric, Perisic.
Wales possible starting lineup: Ward; Mepham, Rodon, Cabango; Roberts, Ramsey, Ampadu, Wilson, Williams; James, Moore.