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Explained: Why England will play UEFA Nations League clash in Croatia in front of empty stadium

Croatia faced Italy here in a Euro 2016 qualifier
Croatia faced Italy here in a Euro 2016 qualifier

England travel to Croatia to play their first away match in the Nations League on Friday - but the fixture will take place behind closed doors.

The match is England's second group game in the Nations League. After losing to Spain 2-1 at Wembley last month, Gareth Southgate's side will be hoping for a positive result against Croatia to boost their hopes of reaching the Nations League finals next summer.

The match will take place in the city of Rijeka. Stadion HNK Rijeka has a capacity of just over 8,000 spectators and Croatia have played there just twice before.


Betting

Croatia to win - 17/10 | Draw - 21/10 | England to win 7/4

Harry Kane to score anytime - Price Boosted to 6/4

Raheem Sterling to score first and England to win 2-1 - 100/1

Luka Modric to score first and either Croatia to win 2-0 or Croatia to win 3-1 - 66/1


Gareth Southgate after signing his England extension
Gareth Southgate recently signed an extension to his England contract

So why is it behind closed doors?

Croatia are serving the second part of their two-game punishment imposed by UEFA after a swastika was marked on their pitch before a Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy.

They were also deducted a point for their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign over the incident - although they still qualified for the France showpiece, going on to lose their last-16 tie to eventual winners Portugal.

"This is sabotage and felony," Tomislav Pacak, a Croatia Football Federation spokesman said at the time, in relation to the swastika.

Their November home tie with Nations League Group A4 rivals Spain will be open to support.

Croatia played the first match of their two-game stadium ban in October 2015, in a fixture with Bulgaria. But they have not had a home fixture in a UEFA competition since.


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Odds via Sky Bet and correct as of 2220 BST on 09/10/18

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Most Read Football

The latest from the back pages1

Monday's Paper Talk

Paris Saint-Germain are ready to swoop on David de Gea as he stalls on a new Manchester United contract, according to the back pages.

We celebrate the best bets that have come in over weekend2

Weekend winners: Lucky for someone

One racing punter scooped almost £13,000 from a £15 stake on Sunday's card at Goodwood while our rugby league expert landed a big-priced winner in the Grand Final.

We look ahead to the latest round of matches in the Nations League3

Nations League betting preview

The Nations League continues on Monday with England and Northern Ireland both in action. We pick out some of our best bets.

Italy celebrate their last minute winner in Poland4

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Eden Hazard celebrates5

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