Euro Betting: Croatia vs Spain
Round of 16 | 28 June | Copenhagen
Their Euros So Far
The well-worn argument for backing teams that ‘grow into tournaments’ could be a genuine possibility for these two sides. Both started their Euro campaigns very slowly, both needing and achieving victories in their third and final group games to be certain of progressing to the knockout stages.
Croatia stuttered for their first two games, losing to England and drawing to the Czechs, but showed some of the quality that made them 2018 World Cup finalists by beating Scotland 3-1, with goals from standout players Luka Modric, Nikola Vlasic, and Ivan Perisic.
For three-time Euro winners Spain, they’ve looked typically dominant in possession, but toothless in attack, drawing 0-0 with Sweden and 1-1 with Poland, with amongst others, Alvaro Morata being wasteful across both games. Fortunately for La Roja, that ended in the final group game when they smashed Slovakia 5-0, and pleasingly, with four different goalscorers.
This game is believed to be a battle of the midfield powerhouses, with whoever controls the game there, likely winning it overall. For the Croats, you have Ballon D’or winner, Luka Modric, plus the battling Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic, who all starred against Scotland.
For the Spanish, as always, they seem to be blessed with players who can possess a football like few others. Liverpool’s Thiago, Man City’s Rodri, Atletico’s Koke, and of course, Barca creative stalwart Sergio Busquets.
And now we are in the knockout stages, where penalty shootouts start coming to the fore, Spain have missed their last five penalties, including two at Euro 2020. Will it go that far? Can they score when it matters?
Croatia have a big loss in forward, Ivan Perisic. He scored in the victory over Scotland, but tested positive for Covid-19 afterwards, and now must isolate for the requisite 10 days. Players like Ante Rebic, Andre Kramaric, or Josip Brekalo are expected to fill the void.
For Luis Enrique’s side, the bulk of his squad is available, although changes are expected and predicted. Pablo Sarabia is expected to start, following his performance against Slovakia being key to opening the goals floodgates. Dani Olmo is expected to come in to replace Gerard.
Goalkeeper, David de Gea left Spain training early on Sunday, it is unknown whether this is a major concern for the tie with Croatia.
There have been eight contests between the nations, with a quite even split of 3 Croatia wins to Spain’s 4. Their most recent encounters came in the Nations League in 2018, with Croatia edging Spain 3-2 in the last game, eliminating them from the competition. Andrej Kramaric, part of the current Croatia squad, was also a scorer that game.
The preceding Nations League tie was a completely different affair, with La Roja running out 6-0 winners.Busquets remains the only Spanish survivor of that squad. However, a number of current Croatian squad members were also part of that team too.
There has also been some big Euro matches between the two countries. At Euro 2016, Croatia beat Spain 2-1 en route to topping their group, with Ivan Perisic and Nikola Kalinic scoring. Could the latter repeat that feat?
And at Euro 2012, Spain sent Croatia packing with a 1-0 win that put them through to the quarter-finals, before going on to win the tournament for the third time.
So, which team will deliver the latest knockout Euro blow to the other?