Mikey Patterson (@ThePattBlogs) previews Spain v Croatia and provides us with his best bets for Tuesday's UEFA Nations League by analysing team news, potential line-ups, head-to-head, key stats and facts and more.
Spain v Croatia Betting Preview, Odds & Tips
- Date: 11/09/2018
- Time: 19.45
- Venue: Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero
New Spain boss Luis Enrique will be looking to continue his winning start in international management when Croatia visit them in Elche for their second game in the Nations League.
This is a Spanish side that find themselves in something of a new age, with some of their best servants retiring from International duty over the past two season or so, and others following suit after what was, for their high standards, a poor showing at the World Cup in Russia.
However, the opening game for Spain and Enrique at Wembley on Saturday night, gave us an insight of how he intends to take Spain forward. Despite going a goal down to hosts England, they fought back quickly in the first half and went in 2-1 to the good against Southgate and his side. Chances came and went in the second for both sides, a goal ruled out for England late on in the half meant Enrique came away with the victory.
What the game showed was that despite losing a lot of their golden generation over the years, they still have the players and talent to take the team forward in their shadows. Having played second fiddle at time to the likes of Iniesta, Xavi and David Silva over the years, Thiago Alcantara can now pick up the baton with the cool and calm approach on the ball, waiting for the right pass and keeping possession. It was good night for Saul alongside him in the midfield, firing the equaliser in just two minutes after Marcus Rashford had put England ahead. Saul, as ever, worked tirelessly, giving Enrique even more to smile about.
Croatia travel to Spain on the back of a 1-1 draw with Portugal in their friendly on Thursday. Croatia had a fantastic World Cup campaign, falling short at the Final to a superb French side. Portugal were without their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo for the game, but the side still boasted the like of Ruben Neves, Rui Patricio and veteran defender Pepe amongst those to feature for the hosts. Croatia took the lead thanks to Ivan Perisic, one of their World Cup heros in midfield, but Portugal were level going into the break as Pepe found the equaliser just past the half hour mark. You have to wonder,should he have featured, would it have been a different picture with Ronaldo in the frame?
Going into this one, having seen them out play and out class England on Saturday night, I am favouring the home side and new boss Enrique to come away with, at the very least a draw, but fully expect them to take the victory back on home soil. Despite their fantastic World Cup, I cannot see Croatia handling Spain given the speed in which they turned the ball forward against England. Should they be given the time and opportunity to do so, expect to see them get the ball up top quickly again and utilise the pace they have in their wide men. I can see Croatia getting a goal themselves, given the relative ease in which Luke Shaw was allowed to bring the ball forward towards the left side and slide a great pass into the run of Rashford early on in the game. Croatia have not won in Spain since 1994, and the last 5 meetings between these two has seen Spain win 3, with Croatia winning their last encounter during Euro 2016, beating Spain 2-1 and beating them to top spot in the group in the process.
Conclusion for this one for myself would be a Spain win and either BTTS or over 2.5. As has become my own little thing for this season, I will be having a few on some player cards as well (All dependant on starting line ups of course). Had some success with this in the England game, with the highlight winner coming from Henderson to be carded at 7.0 on SkyBet.
Potential Spain Starting XI: De Gea, Alonso, Carvjal, Ramos, Nacho, Busquests, Saul, Thiago Alcantara
Potential Croatia Starting XI: Kalinic,Vida,Vrsaljko, Barisic, Jedvaj, Kovacic, Perisic, Modric, Brozovic, Pjaca, Livaja
Head To Head
- Spain have won 3 out of the 6 encounters between these two sides.
- In 6 games, both sides have shared 13 goals (Spain 7, Croatia 6).
Key Stats & Facts
- Croatia won the last time these two met at Euro 2016 (2-1), before then they last beat Spain back in 1994.
- Spain 4/5
- Draw 5/2
- Croatia 7/2
Seeing Spain play England, I am going with them to win this one and given the goals shared in previous games between them, I will be teaming it with Both Teams to Score also. I will be waiting for the starting line ups before I place any on any player bookings or booking points, however, should they start, I will be looking at Ramos and Busquests for Spain, and possibly Vida and Vrsaljko for Croatia.