EURO 2024 qualifying continues this week when Croatia host a winless Latvia side in Rijeka Friday before heading to Armenia Monday. The Vatreni have only played two matches thus far in qualifying due to their Nations League Final run in June. They drew Wales 1-1 in Split earlier in the year before a triumphant 3-0 win in Turkey.
No matter how you cut it, Zlatko Dalić and his boys should consider anything less than six points this week as “unsuccessful”. Euro 2024 qualifying will be 50% complete after this week and Croatia can legitimately start thinking how to bench players like Modrić and Perišić later in qualifying. Remember, the top two sides in group automatically punch their ticket to EURO 2024 in Germany next summer.
Latvia “should” be an easy win on home soil…on paper. However, don’t sleep on these guys and look forward to the next game quite yet. Latvia have been competitive even though they have yet to earn their first point in qualifying. Latvia has lost all three matches by one goal. They were beat by Turkey with a goal coming in the 95th minute and took an up-and-coming Armenia side all the way to 1-1 in injury time before a 91st minute penalty broke the deadlock. Yes, I can’t name one Latvian player and Croatia should win by two goals in Rijeka, but don’t sleep on these guys as they’ve been gritty.
On Monday, Croatia may have an opportunity to start locking up the group depending on what happens against Armenia and Turkey on Friday. If Turkey beats Armenia, that would essentially make the Croatia/Armenia match on Monday a must-win for the Armenians. They are coming off two straight wins over Wales and Latvia and may have to leave it all on the field against Croatia. We will have a better after Friday’s games conclude.
But if Armenia need to gun for a W against Modrić and company, they may have to open up for the majority of the match which could cost them dearly against a much more veteran Croatian attack.
Name of the game this week: grab all 6 points to qualify for Euro ASAP
Question of the week: would you disappointed if Croatia do not win both matches?