Live Match Hub: Croatia vs Wales
International
7 June 2019

Live Match Hub: Croatia vs Wales

GIGGS REFLECTS ON CROATIA DEFEAT

09 June 201911:15am

Ryan Giggs cut a frustrated figure on Saturday evening as he spoke to the media following the 2-1 defeat to Croatia in Osijek.

"When you end the game like that and have the chances we had, you've got to be disappointed and it's definitely one that got away," said the manager. "I said to the players, we've missed a chance, especially with the way we ended the game, we ended so strong.

"When it gets stretched, Croatia had chances on the break, but you expect that. We looked the fitter side at the end. We looked like the ones pushing and it looked like Croatia were hanging on. With how strongly we ended the game, you have to be disappointed. It is one that got away."

Click the video below to watch the full press conference.

THE TEAMS ARE IN

08 June 201912:31pm

Ryan Giggs has named his starting line-up for the European Qualifier against Croatia in Osijek this afternoon. Gareth Bale captains the side while his Real Madrid team mate Luka Modric captains Croatia.

Follow @Cymru throughout the match for live updates and check back here for all the post-match reaction from Osijek.

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THE GROUP E ACTION CONTINUES

08 June 201912:21pm

It's all to play for in Group E today with two games to kick-off what could be a defining week in the campaign.

The action begins in Osijek as Croatia take on undefeated Wales this afternoon, and the match is immediately followed by bottom team Azerbaijan hosting Hungary. Another two games take place on Tuesday, 11 June, when Azerbaijan meet Slovakia in Baku and Wales head to Budapest to take on Hungary.

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MEPHAM MEETS THE MEDIA

08 June 201911:17am

Defender Chris Mepham was on media duty in Osijek yesterday as he spoke to the assembled press about the challenge of taking on Croatia in European Qualifying.

Click the video below to watch Mepham's press conference in full.

IT'S MATCHDAY

08 June 201911:06am

Wales return to European Qualifying this afternoon as Ryan Giggs' side take on Croatia in Osijek.

The travelling fans are starting to arrive as the final preparations are completed by Giggs and his staff ahead of the challenge of taking on the 2018 World Cup finalists at a stadium where they are yet to experience defeat. But Wales are the only undefeated team in Group E, and boast a perfect record following the 1-0 win over Slovakia in the opening round of games.

Midfielder Joe Allen is in contention to earn his 50th cap, but the attention will inevitably focus on Gareth Bale and Luka Modric as the Real Madrid team mates go head-to-head. Follow @Cymru for live updates from the Gradski vrt Stadium throughout the match.

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Information for Supporters in Croatia

07 June 201910:31pm

The FA Wales Security Officer has issued the following statement as a reminder to all travelling fans in Osijek:

"Please be aware that all supporters attending the game in Osijek will be asked to show photo ID before presenting their ticket at the turnstile.

"For Wales fans, this must be either a passport or UK driving licence. Entry will not be permitted if the supporter’s details printed on the ticket do not match those on the ID and the match ticket will be confiscated."

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GIGGS ON CROATIA

07 June 20195:28pm

Manager Ryan Giggs spoke to the media in Osijek this morning to discuss the challenge facing his Wales team on Saturday when they take on World Cup finalists Croatia.

Wales trained in the sun earlier today and Giggs believes the heat will be a factor when his side take to the field. "You don't want to be constantly defending in that heat for 90 minutes against quality players," he explained. "So we need to brave, we need to be good on the ball, and something I've tried to do since I took over, which is keeping the ball.

"Croatia obviously want to take it to a place where it's quite intimidating, which you would do, and try and make it as difficult as possible for your opponent. You've got to come to terms with that in international football. It's our job to silence that and turn that into pressure on the home team. We recognise it's an historic venue and we're up against it, but we are ready."

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MODRIC TALKS BALE AND WALES

07 June 20195:34pm

Croatia talisman Luka Modric spoke to the media this afternoon, and inevitably the conversation turned to Real Madrid team mate Gareth Bale as the build-up to the European Qualifier continued in Osijek.

"I haven't spoken with Gareth since we ended the season with Real Madrid," explained Modric. "Wales is a very good, organised team. Gareth Bale is obviously their best player but I think they have really good individuals in the rest of the team as well, especially going forward. I don't like to talk about names but I have huge respect for the Welsh team.

"There is no correlation in the form between playing for your club and country. I know how much playing for Wales means to Gareth and I don't think the lack of minutes at Real Madrid will influence his performance. I expect him to be in top shape. We expect a very difficult match against an opponent I think, together with Croatia, is the best in the group. After Hungary, we have no space for other bad results. We are looking for a win and I certainly hope we can achieve that."

Meanwhile, Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic was also keen to emphasise the attacking quality that compliments Bale in this current Wales side. "We know everything about the quality of the Welsh team," he said. "Bale is the best player for Wales, he has a different position here as he plays as a forward, and he is supported very well by Brooks, James and Wilson. Those are the four most dangerous players for Wales so we need to be extra careful with them, especially because of their speed."

WALES TRAIN IN OSIJEK

07 June 20191:49pm

Earlier today, Ryan Giggs' squad took to the field at the Gradski vrt Stadium to continue their preparations ahead of the Group E European Qualifier against Croatia on Saturday.

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Wales Training - Behind the Scenes
Wales Training - Behind the Scenes

WALES ARRIVE

06 June 20198:58pm

Wales have arrived in Osijek ahead of the European Qualifier against Croatia at the weekend.

Manager Ryan Giggs and a senior player will speak to the media about the match at a press conference on Friday morning before the team train at the Gradski vrt stadium. Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic will then address the media in the afternoon.

Wales, Croatia, Slovakia and Hungary are all on three points in Group E ahead of the latest round of fixtures. Bottom side Azerbaijan take on Hungary in the other match to be played on Saturday.

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EURO HISTORY

06 June 20196:04pm

Both Croatia and Wales will hope to move one step closer to the UEFA EURO 2020 finals when the two sides meet in their European Qualifier on Saturday.

For Croatia, the aim is to qualify for the finals of the competition for the sixth time since their debut in 1996. Meanwhile, Wales qualified for the first time in 2016, but memorably reached the semi-final stage, an achievement that has so far eluded Croatia in their five previous appearances at the EURO finals.

Croatia reached the quarter-final stage in 1996 and 2004. However, it was Chris Coleman's Wales that went one step further in the last tournament. What the side achieved in France that summer will forever remain a famous part of Welsh football folklore, and Ryan Giggs' squad will be desperate to emulate that achievement in the current campaign.

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MEET THE REFEREE

06 June 201912:10pm

Romanian Istvan Kovacs will referee the Group E European Qualifier between Croatia and Wales in Osijek on Saturday.

The 34-year old has been a FIFA referee for almost a decade, and took charge of the UEFA Nations League fixtures between Turkey and Sweden and Norway and Cyprus earlier this season. Kovacs also officiated the UEFA Champions League group stage match between Valencia and Young Boys, together with a number of UEFA Europa League ties.

This will be his first match refereeing Wales at any level, although he did referee Croatia U17's against Belgium U17's in a UEFA qualifier back in 2011. This will be his 56 international match.

FAMILIAR FACE

06 June 20198:09am

Gareth Bale and Luka Modric played together at Tottenham Hotspur and were reunited at Real Madrid back in 2013, but their friendship will be put aside on Saturday when the pair go head-to-head in what is an important European Qualifier for both nations.

Modric enjoyed the best year of his career in 2018 as he scooped a host of prestigious individual awards. In addition, the creative midfielder played an influential role in leading Croatia to the World Cup final, and celebrated UEFA Champions League success with Real Madrid.

As well as claiming the highest individual awards from FIFA and UEFA, Modric also ended Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's decade-long monopoly of the Ballon d'Or. This recognition was testament to his inspirational contribution to the Croatian cause during his career, culminating in taking his country to within one match of the most coveted prize of all.

Having made 120 appearances for his country since making his debut back in 2006, Modric, 33, is the most-capped played in the current Croatian squad. There is no doubt that he will be the key figure for the hosts in Osijek, especially with Barcelona's Ivan Ratikic missing the match through a hamstring injury.

However, Croatia have struggled to maintain the standard they set in Russia last summer, and were relegated from their UEFA Nations League group following defeats against Spain and England. Meanwhile, Wales remain the only undefeated team in Group E.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS - CROATIA v WALES

05 June 20199:02pm

The European Qualifier between Croatia and Wales in Osijek on Saturday will be only the fifth meeting between the two nations, and manager Ryan Giggs will be hopeful that his talented squad can become the first Wales team to claim a victory against their opponents.

The first match between the two sides took place in Varazdin back in August 2002, as an early goal from Simon Davies was cancelled out by Mladen Petric in a 1-1 friendly draw. Wales then returned to Croatia for another friendly in May 2010, but goals from Ivan Rakitic and Drago Gabric earned Slaven Bilic's side the victory.

The first competitive match between Wales and Croatia took place in Osijek in October 2012 as Chris Coleman's side looked to make an early impression on their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying group. However, Mario Mandzukic and Eduardo scored either side of half-time to claim a 2-0 win.

It was a similar story in the return match the following March, as despite Gareth Bale opening the scoring at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea from the penalty spot, late goals Eduardo and Dejan Lovren sealed a 2-1 victory for Croatia.

Wales finds no rewards in Croatia

THE PERFECT START

05 June 20199:12pm

Wales head into the latest round of European Qualifiers as the only undefeated team in Group E following a memorable 1-0 win over Slovakia at the Cardiff City Stadium in the opening match back in March.

Click the video below to remind yourself of Daniel James' superb strike together with highlights from the international friendly against Trinidad & Tobago.

HIGHLIGHTS: Wales 1-0 Trinidad & Tobago | Wales 1-0 Slovakia
HIGHLIGHTS: Wales 1-0 Trinidad & Tobago | Wales 1-0 Slovakia

RAKITIC A KEY LOSS FOR CROATIA

05 June 20199:02pm

Croatia will be without Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic as well as striker Ante Rebic of Frankfurt for the match against Wales.

Vice-captain and influential figure Rakitic will miss the match with a hamstring injury while Rebic remains out of contention with a knee problem. "We made the decision together that Rakitic will not be part of this action," explained manager Zlatko Dalic.

"He has had a problem with his hamstring, and it flared up again in the final of the King's Cup. He is not fit. The match with Wales is extremely important and demanding because it comes at the end of the club season, but as it is for us, so is it for our opponents. As far as the result is concerned, we do not have many choices."

JOE SET FOR APPEARANCE MILESTONE

05 June 20198:58pm

Midfielder Joe Allen is set to make his 50th international appearance for Wales on Saturday as UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying returns against Croatia in Osijek.

Allen, 29, has spent a decade on the international scene having made his senior debut back in May 2009 as a substitute in a 1-0 friendly victory over Estonia in Llanelli. A key member of the team during the memorable EURO 2016 campaign, Allen is a firm favourite with the red wall due to his quality on the ball and tenacious play without it.

Currently playing for Stoke City in the Championship, Allen has just two international goals to his name, and both were scored in the opening two games of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. Allen was on target in the 4-0 win over Moldova at Cardiff City Stadium in September 2016, and repeated the feat the following month with a fine strike in a 2-2 draw away to Austria.

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SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT

05 June 20199:06pm

Click the video below to watch manager Ryan Giggs announce his squad at the Urdd National Eisteddfod recently as Wales prepare to take on Croatia and Hungary in the latest round of European Qualifiers.

Ryan Giggs announces Wales squad at the Urdd National Eisteddfod
Ryan Giggs announces Wales squad at the Urdd National Eisteddfod

The Live Match Hub brings you all the latest news from both camps in the build-up to the European Qualifier between Croatia and Wales in Osijek on Saturday, 8 June.

Check this page regularly for updates.