England stars have been instructed to watch footage of the behind-closed-doors clash between Barcelona and Las Palmas last season in preparation for Friday’s match against Croatia.
Diligent manager Gareth Southgate is making sure his players are as well prepared as possible for the Nations League game in an empty stadium in Rijeka by sending them a video of Barcelona’s 3-0 win at the Nou Camp.
Fans were locked out after violent clashes in the city that day during Catalonia’s independence referendum vote. The Spanish FA had refused Barca’s request to postpone the match.
Barcelona played Las Palmas in an empty stadium to protest police violence in Catalonia
Croatia, who beat England in the World Cup semi-final, are being punished by UEFA after a swastika was marked on the pitch before a Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy in 2015.
Southgate has also watched a video of Lyon’s Champions League game against Shakhtar Donetsk, when UEFA banned fans as punishment for crowd trouble.
Southgate believes the unusual circumstances of playing in an empty stadium could pose problems for his players.
The match was played in an eerily quiet Nou Camp, which can seat over 100,000 people
England players will watch footage of the match in order to prepare for a similar atmosphere
The squad have already been warned that every word they shout will probably be picked up by TV cameras.
Likewise, the fact Croatia players will be able to hear instructions from the England bench and tactical conversations between players could add to the difficulties.
The FA have urged England fans to stay at home but the concern is many booked trips before the ban was confirmed.
England will play their Nations League match against Croatia in an empty stadium in Rijeka