What Does Croatia Need to Qualify for Euro 2020? A Closer Look

By 15 October 2019

October 15, 2019 - After Croatia drew in Cardiff on Sunday, their fate in the European Championships next year won’t be decided until the final qualifier against Slovakia.

The 2018 World Cup finalists knew that they could secure the Euros on Sunday with a win against Wales - but nothing is ever as easy as it seems with this national team. 

Namely, writes that after drawing in Wales, Croatia still sits at the top of Group E with 14 points, while Hungary follows in second with 12 points. The other three national teams in the group have one match less: Slovakia has 10 points, Wales has 8, and in the last place is Azerbaijan, who is already eliminated. The top two teams from each group automatically have a spot in the Euros.

It is easier to calculate Group E if the countries with one game less, i.e., Slovakia and Wales, are hypothetically given three points for wins against Azerbaijan in the qualifiers to be played next month. Thus, the group would stand as follows: Croatia 14, Slovakia 13, Hungary 12, Wales 11.

The group can certainly be shaken up in November when Croatia and Slovakia meet on November 16, which is followed by Wales and Hungary on November 19. However, Croatia maintains the best position as they have a one-point advantage and are playing at home.

Thus, even with a draw against Slovakia, Croatia not only advances to the Euro, but they will certainly sit at the top of the group. Wales would then be four points behind, and Hungary three, though they have a worse ratio.

But, as we said, that is the best-case scenario. 

A defeat in the last round against Slovakia would mean: falling to second place, and the possibility of Hungary throwing Croatia into third place if they defeat Wales away. However, even the worst outcome (falling to third place) could still guarantee a spot at the Euros. Recall, there will be additional qualifications based on Nations League, where Croatia would have to knock out two opponents. We have yet to know who they could be, but chances are the national teams of Switzerland, Iceland, Northern Ireland, and so on.

The simplest solution, of course, would be to win against Slovakia in the final round at home. However, we must keep in mind that no easy task awaits our 'Vatreni', thanks to the absence of Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida, who will have to sit this one out due to yellow cards. We can expect Slovakia to attack, because a victory is their only safe road to the Euros. 

HNS is also looking to change the stadium from Rujevica in Rijeka to Maksimir in Zagreb for the final qualifier to ensure our national team can play in front of as many home fans as possible. We await an answer later today. 

Remember, a win, which guarantees a safe spot at the top of the group, also promises a more favorable Euro 2020 draw.

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