Croatia takes on a tricky Macedonian side on Friday from Skopje in World Cup 2014 qualifying. This will be the third match for the Vatreni, already defeating Macedonia by a narrow 1-0 margin in Zagreb and dueling out the Belgians to a 1-1 draw in Brussels back in September. Surely, Croatia should earn all three points in this match but Macedonia proved themselves less than a month ago. Croatia was unable to break the bunker and went into halftime with no goals to their name. Macedonia broke through on multiple occasions, but with no true striker on their squad, could not finish the chances they were given. Napoli’s Goran Pandev was let loose in front of the Croatian goal and rifled a shot off the crossbar. Fortunately for the Vatreni, it did not cross the line on its way down.
Last we saw the Croatian national side in Macedonia, it was a water-logged muddy pitch with Croatia knowing they already booked their ticket to Euro 2008 at halftime. Macedonia ultimately won the match 2-0 in a second half where Croatia protected themselves from injury.
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But come this time around, aside from the three points all Croatians think they should grab in Skopje, all eyes will be on Brazilian-born Dinamo Zagreb player Jorge Sammir Cruz Campos. Manager Igor Štimac and the HNS have called up Sammir for this round of qualifiers, but will he see the pitch wearing the Croatian checkers? Many Croatians around the world are upset about the call up, saying that it is merely a ploy from Dinamo Zagreb director Zdravko Mamić to cap his player in order to sell Sammir at a higher price tag.
What’s the final verdict on Sammir? Will he play against Macedonia? And if not, will he see the pitch against Wales on Tuesday in Croatia?