Croatia have no new injury worries for the vital game against Mexico after coming through the match with Cameroon unscathed. They will have a day less to prepare and rest and used a lot of energy in the sapping conditions of Manaus and this could ultimately play a part.
Mandžukić returned to lead the line and was expertly supported by Olić and Perišić and this will again be the attacking three in a game Croatia realistically need to win in order to stand a chance of progressing. If they draw they would have to rely on Brazil losing to Cameroon – an unlikely prospect.
The only change that Niko Kovač may choose to make could come to his midfield with Sammir starting against Cameroon and replacing Mateo Kovačić. The young Internazionale midfield came on with 18 minutes left and was very impressive when exploiting the space as 10 man Cameroon tired but Kovač may stick with the discipline of Sammir in what is likely to be a tight contest.
Lovren and Ćorluka will carry bookings into the final game but there is no chance of them being rested to avoid a 2nd booking as they go into what is essentially a cup final for them.
Bench (from): Subasic GK, Zelenika GK, Vrsaljko RB/LB, Schildenfeld CB, Vida CB/RB, Vukojević DM, Brozović CM, Kovačić CM, Badelj CM, Eduardo ST, Jelavić ST, Rebić ST
Tactical Keys to the Game:
This game is win or go home for Croatia. A draw will likely see them exit the competition as it is unlikely Brazil will lose to Cameroon and so it is a straight one off game with Mexico to see who will face Netherlands or Chile in the 2nd round
• No injuries or suspensions from the impressive 0-0 draw with Brazil, so team should be unchanged once again. • Aguilar and Vazquez are one yellow card away from missing the Round of 16, so need to be careful.
• The team can progress with a draw or win, but not a loss, so their approach will be interesting.
Expected Team (5-3-2)
Miguel Herrera looks set to name an unchanged starting eleven for the third consecutive game for his side’s crucial head-to-head with Croatia on Monday. The coach has no reason to make alterations after taking four points from the preceding contests against Cameroon and Brazil, with consistency likely to be key to their hopes of progressing through.
Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa really repaid his coach’s faith in selecting him ahead of Jose Corona with a string of outstanding saves against the hosts and will again be between the posts, with the defensive trio of Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Marquez and Hector Moreno ahead of him. Miguel Layun and Paul Aguilar will operate in the wing-back slots but may well be more cautious than they have been so far given the circumstances, with Mexico needing only to avoid defeat to qualify.
The triumvirate of Jose Vazquez, Hector Herrera and Andres Guardado has proven a successful mix in the centre of midfield, though Herrera was looking exhausted by the end of the Brazil game. Marco Fabian and Carlos Pena will provide more energy from the bench if required, with Javier Hernandez again expected to be used as a substitute late in the game. He replaced Oribe Peralta against Luis Felipe Scolari’s team with Raul Jimenez coming on for Giovanni dos Santos to freshen things up in the latter stages and both will provide good options here as well.
Bench (from): Corona GK, Talavera GK, Reyes CB, Ponce LB/LM, Salcido LB/CB, Pena CM/RM, Fabian AM/CM, Aquino RW, Brizuela SS, Hernandez ST, Jimenez ST/SS, Pulido ST/RW
Tactical Keys to the Game:
Group A – Game 3
Croatia (33) v Mexico (15), Monday 23rd June 21:00 BST
Croatia go into this game knowing they must win if they want to progress to the second round while Mexico only need a draw. Their respective matches so far have been contrasting affairs with both Croatia games seeing four goals and Mexico’s two seeing just one strike in total.
Croatia were slightly unfortunate against Brazil before a routine win over Cameroon and they will be confident that they are playing well and can get a positive result here. Their form was inconsistent in the build up to the World Cup and they’ve won just one of their last 11 matches against teams ranked 11-25 (W1-D7-L3), but with Modric, Mandzukic and Rakitic they can threaten anyone.
Since 1990 there have been 17 final group games in World Cups, Euros, African Cup of Nations and Copa Americas where one side was on three points and the other on four. The side on three points has a W7-D5-L5 record in those matches which pretty much reflects the odds for this game but significantly 14 of the matches have had fewer than three goals.
Mexico didn’t offer a lot going forward against Brazil but they dealt with the hosts attacking threat fairly comfortably for the most part and when they did allow a chance their keeper was in inspired form. Their last four matches have all had fewer than two goals while nine of their 12 games against UEFA sides back to the last World Cup have had fewer than three strikes.
We expect Mexico to sit back again here as they set out not to lose and this looks likely to be a low scoring affair.