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Croatia’s Euro 2024 hopes hang by a thread after draw with Italy

Croatia’s journey in UEFA Euro 2024 is teetering on the edge after a heart-breaking 1-1 draw against Italy at the Red Bull Arena Leipzig on the final Matchday 3 of Group B.

Zlatko Dalic’s men now face a precarious path to the Round of 16, with their fate hinging on the outcomes of other groups.

The Situation in Group B

The draw against Italy left Croatia with only 2 points and a -2 goal difference, positioning them third in Group B.

Meanwhile, Spain narrowly defeated Albania, ensuring they topped the group with 9 points. Italy finished second with 4 points, while Albania was eliminated, having secured just one point.

Despite the disappointing results, there is still a glimmer of hope for Luka Modric and his teammates to advance.

Third-Place Qualification Chances

In the Euro 2024 format, the top two teams from each group automatically progress to the Round of 16, accompanied by the four best third-placed teams from the six groups.

With this lifeline, Croatia’s hopes are pinned on how the remaining groups perform. Croatia’s 2 points put them at a disadvantage, but not out of the running entirely.

For context, Hungary, the third-placed team in Group A, concluded their group stage with 3 points, which sets a benchmark for Croatia to surpass.

Scenarios for Croatia’s Advancement

Croatia’s potential qualification as one of the best third-placed teams relies heavily on specific outcomes in Groups C and F. Here are the scenarios that could work in Croatia’s favor:

Scenario 1: England Dominates Slovenia in Group C

In Group C, England leads with 4 points, followed by Denmark and Slovenia, both with 2 points and 0 goal difference. Serbia is at the bottom with 1 point.

If England can secure a victory over Slovenia by a margin of more than 3 goals, Slovenia’s goal difference would suffer, potentially easing Croatia’s path into the Round of 16. This result would reduce Slovenia’s chances of being among the top third-placed teams.

Scenario 2: Czechia and Georgia Falter in Group F

Group F has Portugal leading the pack with 6 points, followed by Turkey with 3 points. Czechia and Georgia are both on 1 point, with goal differences of -1 and -2, respectively.

Croatia would benefit significantly if Czechia loses to Turkey or Georgia falls to Portugal. Such outcomes would likely ensure that Croatia’s 2 points and goal difference hold up against the third-placed teams from Group F.

Croatia’s Last Hope

As of June 25, the fate of Croatia rests on these permutations. While nothing is confirmed, and the final matches in Groups C, E, and F are yet to be played, Croatia must rely on favorable results from these games to extend their Euro 2024 campaign.

The remaining group stage matches will be crucial in determining whether Croatia can squeeze through as one of the best third-placed teams.