Croatia can extend their two-point advantage over Italy at the top of UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group H when the sides meet in Split behind closed doors tomorrow night…
Croatia has some proud statistics against the Italians, including being unbeaten in all previous fixtures. Here are those facts, and some trivia, ahead of tomorrow’s match.
• Croatia’s eight games against Italy have ended W3 D4 L1 (W0 D2 L0 in Croatia), with two of those matches at final tournaments: the 1-1 draw at UEFA EURO 2012 and a 2-1 win for Croatia at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Ibaraki, Japan.
• The sides drew 1-1 in Milan in their first Group H encounter on 16 November, Ivan Perišić (15) cancelling out Antonio Candreva’s opener (11). Italy are now without a victory in seven games against Croatia since a 4-0 success in their first encounter, on 5 April 1942.
• Both teams are unbeaten in Group H: Croatia’s record is W4 D1, while Italy’s is W3 D2.
• Croatia have as yet recorded only one victory at the Stadion Poljud in Split – 2-1 against Georgia in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying; their previous nine games at the arena ended D6 L3 – one of those draws a 1-1 result against Italy in EURO ’96 qualifying.
• Italy are unbeaten in eight games since exiting the 2014 World Cup at the group stage (W5 D3); in the same period, Croatia’s record is W6 D1 L1, their lone reverse a 2-1 home defeat by Argentina in a friendly last November.
• Italy have not lost in 45 UEFA European Championship and World Cup qualifiers (W33 D12) since losing 3-1 in France in UEFA EURO 2008 qualifying on 6 September 2006.
Trivia and links
• A number of Croatia players are Serie A regulars, meaning club-mates could meet: – Marcelo Brozović (Croatia) played on loan this season at FC Internazionale Milano with Andrea Ranocchia (Italy). – Šime Vrsaljko (Croatia), Francesco Acerbi and Nicola Sansone (Italy) play together at US Sassuolo Calcio. – Milan Badelj (Croatia) and Manuel Pasqual (Italy) play together at ACF Fiorentina.
• Croatia assistant coach Robert Kovač – brother of coach Niko Kovač – played in Italy with Juventus from 2005 to 2007; Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was a team-mate in Turin.
• Italy have had the better of their 14 meetings with Croatia in UEFA’s youth and age-limit competitions: W7 D5 L2, though Croatia edged the most recent last month, sealing a spot at the FIFA U-17 World Cup via a play-off.
• Results between Serie A teams and Croatian outfits in UEFA club competitions have been less one-sided than might be expected; the Italian clubs’ record is W16 D10 L5. Those do not include ten encounters in the non-UEFA-affiliated Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, in which the Italian clubs’ record was W5 D4 L1.