Home advantage key after Turkey shake up group – Wales v Croatia talking points
Wales meet Croatia in a vital Euro 2024 qualifier at Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday night.
Here a look at five of the main talking points as Wales seek to keep their automatic qualification hopes alive.
Perfect finish needed
Turkey’s shock win in Croatia on Thursday has really thrown a spanner in the works. Wales had expected to be in a three-way fight with Turkey and Armenia for the second qualifying spot behind top speeds Croatia. Overtaking Croatia now looks like being Wales’ target, but a top-two spot only appears achievable by winning on Sunday and also beating Armenia and Turkey in their final group games next month.
In a week when the UK and Ireland won the right to host Euro 2028 and the prospect of Wales returning to play at the Principality Stadium came into sharp focus, much has been made of making home advantage count at the Cardiff City Stadium. Wales have enjoyed some big nights there in the past, but that was often when Gareth Bale was in full flow and making the difference. A sell-out crowd will turn up in anticipation that Wales can make the stadium a fortress in the post-Bale era.
Moore the merrier
Kieffer Moore’s return to the fold is a big boost for Wales. Moore missed the last two Euro qualifiers after being sent off against Armenia in June. The 6ft 5in striker has had little game time at Bournemouth but Moore was in fine fettle during his 45-minute run-out against Gibraltar on Wednesday. Moore scored twice in the 4-0 friendly win to take his Wales goals tally to 12.
Croatia suffered their first-ever home defeat in a Euro qualifier against Turkey. But was it a one-off or something more meaningful? The 2018 World Cup finalists and 2022 semi-finalists are used to breezing through qualification but, having let two points slip against Wales at home, this campaign has been more challenging. Time might finally be catching up on midfield magician Luka Modric, 38 last month, while injuries to Tottenham winger Ivan Perisic and Hoffenheim forward Andrej Kramaric have hurt them.
Wales win overdue
Wales have proved accommodating opponents for Croatia, who they have yet to beat in seven attempts. Croatia have won four times with Wales’ best moments coming in three 1-1 draws. Simon Davies scored in a 2002 Varazdin friendly, Bale netted in a Euro 2020 qualifier in Cardiff, and Nathan Broadhead’s stoppage-time equaliser cheered Wales at the start of this campaign in March.
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