Croatia is currently three points shy of finishing 13th out of 15 major competitions since gaining independence. If Wales draws with Turkey, a point will be enough for the “firemen,” and if Turkey wins, they will qualify for the Euros with a defeat against Armenia. However, this match is not only crucial because of the placement but also because it could determine the path to a great result for Zlatko Dalić’s team.
There are three unknown factors that could impact Croatia’s chances in the remaining qualifications on Thursday, as UEFA ranks national teams based on their performance in qualifications. The top-ranked teams include host Germany, 100% Portugal and France along with Spain and Belgium, most likely England, and Croatia if they win over Armenia.
If the qualifications were to end today, Croatia would be in the third-strongest group, which includes Scotland and Slovakia and could possibly feature Netherlands and Serbia as well. However, this group may not have any direct competitors against them due to other unknown factors that could come into play.
The weakest strong group will consist of three national teams that have qualified through play-offs but will not be known at the time of the draw (the matches are at the end of March). As well as the three runners-up with poor performance. So far, they are Slovenia, Czech Republic and Switzerland. With a win over Armenia, Croatia will surely stay in this round, while with a draw or loss they risk ending up in fourth round with a more difficult draw if Wales does not win against Turkey.
Serbia falls into the last round if two out of these three scenarios happen: Slovenia wins over Kazakhstan; Czech Republic wins over Moldova; or Croatia wins over Armenia. This means that indirectly, “fiery” can push their neighbors towards a more difficult draw.
Twelve national teams will compete for the remaining three spots in the draw through three mini-tournaments at the next meeting in March