At the start of the European qualifications for World Cup 2018 in Russia, Croatia has thus far drawn with Turkey (1:1) and won against Kosovo (6:0), Finland (1:0) and Iceland (2:0). Tonight, Croatia faces the remaining opponent in Group I, the national team of Ukraine.
Fans from both teams are getting ready for the highly anticipated match between Croatia and Ukraine tonight as part of the European qualifiers for World Cup 2018 in Russia. Croatia and Ukraine will face each other at Maksimir stadium in Zagreb at 20:45.
Ukrainian fans filled up 27 buses on their arrival into Zagreb yesterday, and it has been speculated that there could be up to 2,000 Ukrainian fans at Maksimir tonight, making it one of the largest away fan appearances in Zagreb. It is important to note that not a single incident has been recorded, reports Vecernji List on March 24, 2017.
The Croatian national team is currently in first place in Group I for the European qualifiers with 10 points. Ukraine follows closely behind Croatia with 8 points and is also unbeaten. In the first two rounds of the European qualifiers, Ukraine has drawn against Iceland (1:1) and Turkey (2: 2), and claimed victory over both Kosovo (3:0) and Finland (1:0), announces HNS on March 24, 2017.
Coach Ante Čačić cannot count on Ivan Perišić during the dual tonight because he was suspended from the November match against Iceland. Čačić also cannot count on defenders Vedran Ćorluka and Šime Vrsaljko who are both injured. The coach of Ukraine is coming to Zagreb with a full roster, and is only missing Eduardo Sobol who is suspended.
The Croatian national football team will once again have the support of the Maksimir stands after two years (the team was not allowed spectators at their last home matches) and the stadium is expected to reach near capacity. As of yesterday, there were still some tickets available in the north stands.
“We can not wait to play in front of this audience again. Our desire to win is enormous, and with us will be relatives, friends and fans, which makes us want to play even more. We will do our best, and we are aware of the importance of the match,” said Ivan Rakitić.
Croatia has played against Ukraine for six qualifiers and one friendly match. In those meetings, Croatia has three wins, three draws, and one defeat. The goal difference is 12:5.
The referee at tonight’s match will be Spanish Antonio Mateu Lahoz.
In other matches for Group I, Turkey and Finland meet at 18:00 and Kosovo and Iceland meet at 20:45.
World Cup Qualifiers 2018 Group I:
1. Croatia 10
2. Ukraine 8
3. Iceland 7
4. Turkey 5
5. Finland 1
6. Kosovo 1