This fixture kicks off the round 3 fixtures in Group F

All eyes will be on Ahmad bin Ali Stadium when Croatia and Belgium face each other in the Group F clash. Both sides may have reached the semi-finals in Russia but a passage to the round of 16 in Qatar is not certain for either nation heading into the final game of Group F.  Following a 2-0 loss to Morocco, Belgium faces a must-win situation in the decider. Zlatko Dalic’s runners-up are better placed after victory against Canada took them to four points; a draw would send Croatia through. Here’s everything you need to know about this mouthwatering clash.

Kick-off time: 8:30 PM IST, 4:00 PM CET, 15:00/10:00 GMT/EST 

Croatia Form(all competitions):  W-W-W-D-W

Belgium Form(all competitions): W-L-L-W-L

Injury and team news

There are no injury concerns for Croatia.

Romelu Lukaku was deemed fit enough to come on for the final ten minutes of Belgium’s surprise defeat to Morocco. The Inter striker hasn’t started a match for club or country since August and may still be short of the fitness required to lead the line.

Players to watch

Luka Modric

Modric has shown a great coordination capacity that has allowed him to successfully solve many complex on-pitch situations throughout his career. The Croatian is recognized for his high cognitive ability. Thanks to his low centre of gravity, Modric is able to backpedal quickly in 1vs1 situations preventing him from being taken on by the opponent, waiting for the right moment to make the tackle which allows him to win the ball.  Despite the fact that he may already be 37 years old, he is still one of the best midfield players in the world.

Youri Tielemans

Tielemans is a highly intelligent and technically gifted playmaker, with many nuances to his skillset which make his impact to be both exceptional and distinguished.  Tielemans can influence the game in a number of ways. He’s a player who looks to optimize space and possession but is skilled in progressing the ball in passing and dribbling if need be, he’s exceptionally strong with both feet and his striking technique of the ball is not only key in his passing, but also in his ability to shoot from distance. Finally, his presence can be very important for the Belgian midfield.

Head-to-head record

Matches: 8

Croatia: 3

Belgium: 3

Draw: 2

Predicted lineup

Croatia predicted lineup(4-3-3):

Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Kramaric, Livaja, Perisic.

Belgium predicted lineup (3-4-2-1):

Courtois; Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Castagne; Meunier, Tielemans, Witsel, Trossard; De Bruyne, E Hazard; Batshuayi.

Croatia vs Belgium: Prediction

Recent clashes back up the likelihood of a low-scoring game with none of the last five meetings between the two sides seeing more than three goals scored.  But in recent form, Croatia has been performing better than the red devils. The morale inside the dressing room of Belgium also doesn’t look good.

Prediction: Croatia 2- 1 Belgium

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