England v Croatia: Back a Sunday shootout at Wembley

Gareth Southgate - England
England must beat Croatia to finish top of Group A4

England entertain Croatia at Wembley knowing victory will see the Three Lions finish top of Group A4 in the Nations League. However, defeat for Gareth Southgate's side will see the hosts relegated. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter.

"The Three Lions have lost just one home outing since March 2016 – against Spain in their Nations League opener. Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Germany and Italy have all been to Wembley in that sample and failed to succeed"

England v Croatia
Sunday November 18, 14:00
Live on Sky Sports

England's young guns impress

England boss Gareth Southgate said he saw "a glimpse of the future" as the Three Lions fielded their most inexperienced starting XI in nearly 40 years during a straightforward 3-0 victory over USA on Thursday night. Jesse Lingard, Trent Alexander-Arnold and debutant Callum Wilson were all on-target at Wembley.

The team that began the game had only 94 caps between them coming into the contest but England, though much-changed, played with pace and there was plenty to be encouraged by from the new-look side. As well as Wilson, Lewis Dunk and Alex McCarthy made their international bows.

Southgate is now likely to select his strongest available side for what is a winner-takes-all final Nations League fixture against Croatia at Wembley on Sunday. Record goalscorer Wayne Rooney will now leave the squad following a 33-minute appearance against USA as the curtain closes on his England career.

Croatia still in contention

Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic said his team were "rewarded for a magnificent match" after seeing his Balkan boys gain a dramatic late winner to beat Spain in the Nations League on Thursday night. The result keeps the Blazers hopes of wining the tournament alive despite a wretched start to their campaign.

The World Cup finalists were smashed 6-0 by Spain in their opening match back in September but have steadied the ship since. And their 3-2 triumph over the same opposition in Zagreb, courtesy of two Tim Jedvaj goals and a strike from Andrej Kramaric in a hugely entertaining clash, have kept the Croats in contention.

Both Sime Vrsaljko and Marcelo Brozovic missed Croatia's last set of internationals through injury but returned to feature from the off against Spain last Thursday as Dalic set his side up in a 4-3-3 system. Ivan Perisic and Kramaric flanked Ante Rebic in attack with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic either side of Brozovic.

Three Lions odds-on favourites

Whoever wins Sunday's Wembley showdown will finish top of the pool and advance to June's Nations League finals, to have a chance of becoming Nations League champions and also to earn a place at Euro 2020. However, if the meeting ends in a draw, Spain will finish top of the tree.

A goalless draw on Sunday would mean England finish second, with Croatia relegated. A score draw, mind, would take Croatia above England on the head-to-head record - by virtue of having scored more away goals in the matches between the sides - and drop the Three Lions into the second tier.

Still following? Basically, England need a victory and are rated [1.95] shots to deliver. The Three Lions have lost just one home outing since March 2016 - against Spain in their Nations League opener. Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Germany and Italy have all been to Wembley in that sample and failed to succeed.

Despite their success at the World Cup, Croatia's [4.20] victory over Spain was only their second in their past nine outings with the other arriving in a sketchy 2-1 win against Jordan last month. Meanwhile, the draw - that neither team wants - is chalked up as a [3.95] poke.

Back a Sunday shootout at Wembley

Due to the group dynamics, goals could be our best path to profit on Sunday. Over 2.5 Goals is trading at [1.74] has cleared in three of England's five fixtures since the World Cup, as well as three of their most recent five Wembley dates. The Three Lions have only twice failed to score at Wembley in four years.

Croatia proved their credentials against Spain, whilst also showcasing their motivation to succeed on the Nations League stage. Like England, the Blazers have delivered Over 2.5 Goals in three of five outings since the World Cup, and further back eight of their previous 11 games produced three or more goals.

Mark's 2018/19 Profit/Loss

Staked: 67.00 pts
Returned: 81.84 pts
P/L: +14.84 pts

Mark O'Haire,

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