Croatia v England – what's it like to play in a 'ghost game'?


West Ham were the first English team to play behind closed doors in European club competition when they hosted Real Madrid Castilla – aka their B team – at an “eerie” Upton Park in 1980

They are known as ‘ghost games’ for good reason – playing in a top-class competitive match without a crowd is an “eerie experience” according to some of those to have done it.

That is the test that awaits England on Friday and, when Gareth Southgate’s side line up at a virtually empty Stadion Rujevica for the Nations League tie against Croatia, it will also be a journey into the unknown.

No matter what happens on the pitch, the Three Lions will make history in Rijeka – because of Uefa sanctions against their hosts after a swastika was marked on their pitch before a game in 2015, England’s 988th senior international since 1872 will be their first to be held behind closed doors.

It is a rare experience for English clubs too – only three have done it in the history of European club competition – West Ham