Croatia is just three points away from finishing 13th out of the 15 major competitions since independence. If Wales and Turkey draw, Croatia will be one point away from qualifying for the Euros with a defeat against Armenia. However, that match is not only important for qualification, but also for determining the path of Zlatko Dalić’s chosen team to a great result.
Uefa ranks national teams based on their performance in the qualifications. The hosts Germany, 100% Portugal and France along with Spain and Belgium, are considered the superpowers. If the qualifications ended today, Croatia would be in the third strong group, which includes Scotland and Slovakia, and possibly Netherlands and Serbia. However, if they beat Armenia and draw with Wales or lose to them, they risk ending up in the fourth round with a tough draw.
There are still three unknowns before Thursday’s draw regarding direct travelers to Germany. These include Hungary and Austria in the second group, as well as Turkey, Denmark, Albania and Romania. Croatia could replace Turkey if they beat Armenia while the Turks beat Wales. At first glance, it seems that a place in the third round may be more favorable for Croatia than in the second group. However, it depends on how other matches go down as well.
The weakest strong group will consist of three national teams that are placed through play-offs and won’t be known at the time of drawing (matches are at the end of March). As well as runners-up with weakest performance so far are Slovenia, Czech Republic and Switzerland. With a win over Armenia, Croatia will definitely stay in this round but if they draw or lose to them then they might end up in fourth round which means more difficult draw ahead.
Serbia will fall into last round if two out of three scenarios happen: Slovenia wins over Kazakhstan or Czech Republic wins over Moldova or Croatia wins over Armenia indirectly pushing their neighbors towards harder draw