Croatia vs Wales predictions: Welsh lack firepower to trouble impressive hosts
The top two-ranked sides in Group D go head-to-head in their respective opening games in qualifying for the European Championship on Saturday night when Croatia entertain Wales in Split, and the hosts look to hold the advantage.
The Welsh scored only once in three group games at the 2022 World Cup finals and that goal was a penalty from Gareth Bale, who retired after the tournament in Qatar.
Croatia, runners-up at the 2018 World Cup, continued to punch above their weight, knocking out Brazil in the quarter-finals before coming unstuck against Lionel Messi's Argentina in the last four, and they should be able to grind out a win against Wales in this opening qualifier.
Croatia have no fresh injury concerns.
Centre-back Dejan Lovren retired from international duty after the World Cup but legendary captain Luka Modric, 37, should start against Wales.
Tottenham defender Ben Davies and Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey have pulled out of the Wales squad due to injury.
Forward Brennan Johnson is also out and record goalscorer Gareth Bale announced his retirement from football in January.
Croatia have lost only two of their last 26 matches in 90 minutes.
Two of Croatia's three group games at the World Cup ended goalless.
The Croats have won eight of their last nine home European Championship qualifying matches and the exception was a 1-1 draw with Italy.
Wales have lost seven of their last 10 games.
The only goal Wales have scored in their last four internationals was a Gareth Bale penalty against the USA at the World Cup.
Three of Wales's last seven defeats have been by a 2-1 scoreline.
Wales were not prolific goalscorers even with the inspirational Bale in their ranks and their first fixture since his retirement looks a tough assignment.
In between Croatia's magnificent World Cup campaigns in 2018 and 2022, they qualified for June's Nations League Finals after winning a group containing France, Denmark and Austria last year.
The vast majority of their World Cup heroes are available for the start of Euro 2024 qualifying and they should be backed to beat Wales in a game featuring under 3.5 goals.
Only two of Croatia's last 17 internationals have produced four or more goals and six of Wales's last 10 games have ended in defeats with under 3.5 goals.
Page's side failed to score in their last three losses, against England and Iran at the World Cup and at home to Poland in the Nations League, in which they picked up just one point from six matches, and Croatia should not be too concerned about the visitors' attacking unit.
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