Croatia and Guatemala meet in what will be their final match in Group D, and what is also likely to be the teams’ final appearance at the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup. With two losses apiece, each side will be searching for their first points of the tournament, with debutants Guatemala particularly anxious to make their mark before heading home.
Though arguably with a better pedigree at this level, having made the Round of 16 at the 1999 edition of the tournament, Croatia will be taking nothing for granted against the Central Americans after disappointing thus far in Colombia. The Europeans started their campaign with a 2-0 loss to Saudi Arabia before succumbing 5-2 to Nigeria on Wednesday.
The other edge they have over their CONCACAF opponents is the two goals they scored against the African table-toppers. Guatemala are yet to find the target in Colombia and have conceded 11 times in their two outings, five against Nigeria and six against Saudi Arabia.
However, Ivan Grnja will be missing dead-ball specialist Zvonko Pamic, who is suspended after picking up his second yellow card of the group stage against Nigeria. This may provide a degree of comfort to beleaguered Guatemala coach Ever Almeida, whose underperforming front and back lines remain a riddle he has yet to solve.
7 – The number of goals scored by Croatia at the UEFA European U-19 Championship 2010, and the number they have conceded since arriving in Colombia.
Ivan Grnja, Croatia coach: “We’ll keep working and try to put on a good performance against Guatemala. We’re missing Pamic, who is a key member of our side, but we’ll still be going for the win.”
Willian Ramirez, Guatemala defender: “It will be another tough game against a difficult opponent, and we’re not expecting any favours. We have to sit down and take a long look at the mistakes we’ve been making if we’re going to get past Croatia.”