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England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford feels that the team will benefit from playing their match against Croatia in an empty stadium. England take on Croatia on Friday in an UEFA Nations League fixture. The Three Lions will hope to seek revenge for their World Cup semi-final defeat three months back.
The match will take place at Rijeka but no fans will be allowed to watch the match inside the stadium because of a two-match ban imposed upon Croatia. Back in 2015, Croatia were playing Italy in a Euro 2016 qualifier at Split. Before the match, a swastika was marked on the pitch. Subsequently, Croatia faced a one-point deduction and a fine of €100,000. UEFA imposed a two-match ban on Croatia which meant that their next two home matches for UEFA competition will be held inside closed doors.
Croatia’s next home game was also their final home match of the qualifying campaign. So, the match against England will be the second match where no fans will enter the stadium.
Pickford feels that playing the match inside closed doors can benefit England. The Everton custodian said, “We [Everton] played there against Hajduk Split in the Europa League qualifier and [it was] very hostile, the fans were crazy, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it got me up for the game. But now we’ve got a ‘no fans in the stadium’ ban; but I think going away from home you’re up against hostile crowds so hopefully this can give us the upper hand. I think it will feel a bit different, but it’s how you react to it.”
England and Croatia both lost their Nations League openers to Spain. While England lost 2-1, Spain thrashed Croatia 6-0. After playing Croatia on Friday, England travel to Seville to play their return leg against Spain.