Two teams that enjoyed a positive start on matchday two in their World Cup Qualifying Group H lock horns this week. Croatia will welcome Malta at the Stadion Rujevica on Tuesday, with a kickoff at 10:45 pm.
The hosts recorded a 1-0 win over Cyprus to kickstart their journey to Qatar in their last outing, while Malta managed to hold Slovakia to a 2-2 draw on Saturday.
An emotional could not hold back the tears when he received a standing ovation from his teammates after earning his record-breaking 135th cap for Croatia. The Real Madrid star was an influential figure in their last World Cup final run.
However, their Group H started with a 1-0 defeat to Slovenia for the World Cup runners. After that, the side managed to prevail against Cyprus with the same scoreline during their weekend encounter.
Mario Pasalic marked his return to the lineup with open arms by netting a goal in the 40th minute, with the result ending a barren run of five games without a win for Zlakto Dalic’s men. It follows three successive defeats to Portugal, Sweden and most recently Slovenia.
Even though being a 176th ranked team, Malta took no chances during their last encounter against 34th ranked Slovakia, who found themselves on the end of a 2-0 defeat in the first half last Saturday. The side has lost 90 of their last 102 World Cup qualifiers.
Croatia vs Malta Head to Head
Both sides have six games against each other, with Croatia taking five wins while Malta without a win. Here is a look at their previous encounters:
Croatia 1-0 Cyprus
Slovenia 1-0 Croatia
Croatia 2-3 Portugal
Sweden 2-1 Croatia
Turkey 3-3 Croatia
Slovakia 2-2 Malta
Malta 1-3 Russia
Malta 1-1 Faroe Islands
Latvia 0-1 Malta
Andorra 0-0 Malta
Croatia Team News
Kramaric’s knee injury ruled him out of their encounter; thus, Ante Budimir should get the nod up top unless Perisis pushes up. This match comes too soon for Luka Modric to start, thus paving the way for Mateo Kovacic. Mislav Orsic keeps pushing for a recall after heroics in Europe.
Malta Team News
Malta’s boss has fewer injury concerns up top with several attacking options to choose from. Tired legs might see changes to the starting lineup with Kyrian Nwokwo looking to recall the squad.
Prediction and Odds
Croatia will be more than hopeful of overturning their last misfortune with a win this Tuesday against their opponents.
Goals Under 2.5
Away: No Score