Croatia is just three points away from placing 13th out of 15 possible major competitions since independence. If Wales and Turkey draw, Croatia will need just one more point to qualify for the Euros. However, the final tournament match against Armenia is crucial as it can determine the path of Zlatko Dalić’s team towards a successful outcome.
Uefa ranks national teams based on their performance in the qualifications, with Germany, Portugal, France, Spain and Belgium considered superpowers along with England. If the qualifications ended today, Croatia would be in third place in a strong group that includes Scotland and Slovakia, among others. However, if they win against Armenia and Turkey loses to Wales, Croatia will replace Turkey and enter the second round. On the other hand, if they lose or draw against Armenia and Wales wins against Turkey, Croatia could end up in fourth place and face a more challenging draw in the Euros.
There are still three unknowns before Thursday’s draw for additional qualifications that will determine direct travelers to Germany. The weakest strong group will consist of three national teams that are placed through play-offs and won’t be known until March. Slovenia, Czech Republic, Switzerland are currently leading this group but have not been confirmed yet. With a win over Armenia, Croatia will ensure their placement in this group and increase their chances of advancing to the next round.
Serbia’s position is also uncertain as they need at least two out of three scenarios to occur for them to fall into the last round: Slovenia winning over Kazakhstan; Czech Republic winning over Moldova; or Croatia winning over Armenia. Indirectly, therefore, Croatia can push their neighbors towards a more challenging draw by winning against Armenia on March 27th.
Twelve national teams will compete for the remaining three spots in the draw through mini-tournaments at an upcoming meeting in March. Poland from League A has already secured a spot there along with Israel and Bosnia-Herzegovina from League B and Georgia from League C.
If the qualifications ended now, playoff pairs would be Poland – Estonia (from League D) and Wales – Finland/Iceland/Ukraine (winners playing for Euro). In phase two of the draw Israel would play Ukraine or Iceland while Bosnia-Herzegovina would face Finland or Ukraine.
In conclusion, Croatia has only three points left to reach 13th place out of 15 possible major competitions since independence. With a win over Armenia on March 27th they can secure their spot in one of these competitions but they have still some work to do before Thursday’s draw for additional qualifications that will determine direct travelers to Germany where they could face some tough opponents like England or Spain.