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Croatia face Italy in crunch Euro 2024 survival clash

Group B was dubbed Euro 2024’s ‘Group of Death’ but while Spain soared through with a game to spare, heavyweights Italy and Croatia meet on…

Group B was dubbed Euro 2024’s ‘Group of Death’ but while Spain soared through with a game to spare, heavyweights Italy and Croatia meet on Monday fighting to stay in the competition.

Both sides were outclassed by Spain, and while reigning champions Italy edged Albania 2-1, Croatia could only draw 2-2 with the minnows.

It gives Italy the upper hand ahead of their clash in Leipzig, with Croatia’s golden generation at risk of a disappointingly early exit if they fail to win.

Croatia, who reached the 2018 and 2022 World Cup final and semifinal respectively, may make several changes as they scrap for Euro survival.

Midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, playing in Saudi Arabia, has come in for criticism after sub-par outings in the first two matches, while Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, 38, has also struggled.

Full-back Ivan Perisic has looked a shadow of himself, still to find his footing after a long injury lay-off.

“It makes me cry when I watch (Modric) on the pitch, he is giving his last atoms of strength… but he is not (the Modric) we are used to seeing,” read one column in Croatian newspaper Jutarnji List.

Youngster Luka Sucic could replace Brozovic, as he did at halftime against Albania.

Striker Bruno Petkovic, who missed a penalty in the 3-0 beating by Spain, called on Croatia to deliver for their vast support in Germany.

“The responsibility is on us, we owe it to our fans to show more,” he said.

“I expect us to beat Italy, and I hope it’s going to happen. We are aware of everything we did or didn’t do in the first two matches, and we need to fix that.”

 

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