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Latvia looking to extend home record

Published: Tuesday 31 August 2010, 21.00CET
Latvia and Croatia meet for only the third time when they start their Group F campaigns, with the hosts protecting a five-game unbeaten run in competitive home matches.
Latvia looking to extend home record
Latvia are unbeaten in five competitive matches at home ©AFP

Tournament statistics


Goals scored9
Possession (%)0
Total attempts82
on target29
off target38
against woodwork2
Yellow cards25
Red Cards0
Fouls committed167
Fouls suffered92
Published: Tuesday 31 August 2010, 21.00CET

Latvia looking to extend home record

Latvia and Croatia meet for only the third time when they start their Group F campaigns, with the hosts protecting a five-game unbeaten run in competitive home matches.

Croatia travel to Latvia for their first game in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying, with the two teams meeting for a third time as they bid to make a positive start in Group F and mount a challenge for a place in the finals in Poland and Ukraine.

Team news
• Latvia captain Vitālijs Astafjevs is in line to make his 163rd international appearance after recovering from injury, while 22-year-old striker Artjoms Rudņevs – who recently joined Polish side KKS Lech Poznań – also features. Coach Aleksandrs Starkovs said: "We tested out many players and chose the best ones."

Latvia squad
Goalkeepers: Andris Vaņins (FC Sion), Aleksandrs Koļinko (PFC Spartak Nalchik), Deniss Romanovs (Xäzär Länkäran FK)
Defenders: Pavels Mihadjuks (SK Liepājas Metalurgs), Kaspars Gorkšs (Queens Park Rangers FC), Deniss Ivanovs (Sivasspor), Ritus Krjauklis (FK Ventspils), Oskars Kļava (FC Anzhi Makhachkala), Vitālijs Smirnovs (Skonto FC), Aleksandrs Fertovs (Skonto FC)
Midfielders: Vitālijs Astafjevs (Skonto FC), Andrejs Rubins (Qarabağ FK), Jurijs Žigajevs (FK Ventspils), Maksims Rafaļskis (SK Liepājas Metalurgs), Juris Laizans (FC Salyut Belgorod), Aleksandrs Cauņa (Skonto FC), Artis Lazdiņš (FK Jelgava)
Forwards: Maris Verpakovskis (Ergotelis FC), Ģirts Karlsons (FC İnter Bakı), Andrejs Perepļotkins (Skonto FC), Artjoms Rudņevs (KKS Lech Poznań)

• There were no huge surprises in the Croatia squad, whose coach Slaven Bilić is well aware of his options. "We have five forwards and we picked all five. We have a list of around 30 players whom we expect to be candidates to play during the qualifying phase."

• Good news came from London, with Luka Modrić expected to be fit despite picking up a hamstring injury during Croatia's last friendly  against Slovakia.

Croatia squad
Goalkeepers: Vedran Runje (RC Lens), Danijel Subašić (HNK Hajduk Split), Stipe Pletikosa (Tottenham Hotspur FC)
Defenders: Vedran Ćorluka (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Josip Šimunić (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim), Ivan Strinić (HNK Hajduk Split), Gordon Schildenfeld (SK Sturm Graz), Jurica Buljat (HNK Hajduk Split), Darijo Srna (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Mladen Bartulović (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Tomislav Dujmović (FC Dinamo Moskva)
Midfielders: Nikola Pokrivač (FC Salzburg), Ognjen Vukojević (FC Dynamo Kyiv), Luka Modrić (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Niko Kranjčar (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Danijel Pranjić (FC Bayern München) Drago Gabrić (Trabzonspor AŞ), Ivan Rakitić (FC Schalke 04)
Forwards: Ivica Olić (FC Bayern München), Eduardo da Silva (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Mladen Petrić (Hamburger SV), Nikica Jelavić (SK Rapid Wien), Mario Mandžukić (VfL Wolfsburg)

Match background
• Latvia's record in two matches against Croatia reads W0 D0 L2 (W0 D0 L1 at home).

• Latvia coach Aleksandrs Starkovs was second in command to Englishman Gary Johnson when the sides first met in Osijek for a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier on 24 March 2001. A first-half Boško Balaban hat-trick set Croatia on their way to a 4-1 win.

• Balaban scored again in the return encounter in Riga on 6 June the same year as Mirko Jozić's men won 1-0, with Starkovs in sole command for only the second contest of his first spell as Latvia boss.

• Latvia are unbeaten in their last five competitive home games, though three of those outings – all 2010 World Cup qualifiers – ended in draws. A 5-1 defeat in England was Croatia's sole away loss in 2010 World Cup qualifying, and aside from that setback they recorded three victories and one stalemate.

Last updated: 01/09/10 16.15CET

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