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Croatia v Malta background

There is nothing much in the nations' past meetings to suggest that Croatia are in for a hard time as they meet Malta in their first UEFA EURO 2016 Group H game.

Preview: European qualifiers on 9 September ©Bongarts

Croatia should be on steady ground as they welcome Malta for a fourth time in their opening UEFA EURO 2016 Group H qualifier.

Match background
• Croatia's record in six senior internationals against Malta is W5 D1 L0 (W3 D0 L0 in Croatia – W2 D1 L0 in Malta). They have scored three goals in their last two games against Malta, both wins.

• The sides first met in UEFA EURO 2000 qualifying, Miroslav Blažević's Croatia beating Josif Ilić's Malta 4-1 in Ta'Qali on 10 October 1998. Hubert Suda (29) gave Malta a half-time lead but goals from Dario Šimić (54), Davor Vugrinec (68, 74) and Davor Šuker (81) ensured there would be no surprise. The return fixture in Zagreb on 21 August 1999 ended 2-1, Mario Stanić (34) and Zvonimir Soldo (55) on target before David Carabott (60) pulled one back.

• Zlatko Kranjčar's Croatia then beat Malta 3-0 at home in FIFA World Cup qualifying on 30 March 2005, Dado Pršo (19, 34) and Igor Tudor (80) with the goals. Horst Heese's Malta sprung a surprise in the return fixture on 7 September that year; after Niko Kranjčar's 19th-minute opener, Stephen Wellman equalised with a second-half free-kick, Mario Tokić's late dismissal further sullying Croatia's evening.

• The sides' most recent encounters came in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying; Slaven Bilić's Croatia beat John Buttigieg's Malta 3-0 in Zagreb on 17 November 2010 (Kranjčar 18, 42, Nikola Kalinić 81). They won 3-1 in Ta'Qali on 2 September 2011, Ognjen Vukojević (11), Milan Badelj (32) and Dejan Lovren (68) on target either side of Michael Mifsud's 38th-minute strike for the home side.

• In addition, Croatia have taken on Malta in eight youth and age-group games at international level in UEFA competition: all eight ended in Croatian victories, with no goals conceded.

• Sides from these nations have met in 16 UEFA competition games, with the Croatian clubs' record reading W13 D2 L1 (W7 D1 L0 at home – W6 D1 L1 in Malta). That lone defeat was NK Slaven Koprivnica's 2-1 loss at Hibernians FC in a 2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup first round game; Slaven won the return fixture 3-0.

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