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Prediction: Croatia vs Spain

Juan Pablo Aravena in Free Soccer Predictions 14 Nov 2018

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Verdict: Over 2.5 goals – yes

Best Odds: 11/10

Bookmaker: 888sport

It’s make-or-break time in the 2018/19 UEFA Nations League! Spain will aim to win Group 4 in League A of the competition, and only need the three points to make it happen. However, they will have to clinch the win at Zagreb facing Croatia, the reigning World Cup runner-ups. Croatia have not won in their first three UNL matches. Can they pull the upset against Luis Enrique’s impressive Spanish side?

Croatia

There’s no question Croatia have been struggling since the end of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The Balkan side have felt the workload of that tournament, where they finished in second place, and they have not lived up to the expectations in the UEFA Nations League’s League A, Group 4. Their two opponents were top sides as well – England and Spain – but who could have imagined Croatia would be goalless and with only one point after their first three matches (D1, L1)? Certainly not them, but all hope is not gone. Croatia must win their two remaining games – this one against Spain and the next one against England – in order to have a chance to go through. It’s not an easy task, but Croatia have enough talent to pull the upset. Can they revisit their World Cup glory days for one more time, right when they need it the most?

Team News

There are no injury concerns for Croatia aside from defender Josip Pivarić, who was withdrawn from the squad due to an injury.

Usual regulars such as Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić and Ivan Perišić have been all been included on the side.

Spain

Former FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has managed to repeat what he did at Los Blaugranas with the National Team. Following the Julen Lopetegui departure and the 2018 FIFA World Cup fiasco, La Roja have found some much-needed stability with the presence of the former midfielder at the helm. This has been reflected in their UNL campaign, since Spain sit at the top of Group 4 in League A with six points after three matches (W2, L1). The loss against England wasn’t on anyone’s plans, but La Furia Roja remain in control of their own destiny. In fact, things are quite simple for them – a win against Croatia would assure them the top spot in Group 4 and a spot in the tournament’s final stage, while a defeat or a draw would leave everything on England’s (or Croatia’s) hands. Based on talent alone, Spain look like a superior team. But can they reflect that on a complicated venue such as Zagreb?

Team News

Spain doesn’t have fresh injury concerns. However, the return of Jordi Alba stands out. The Barcelona left-back hadn’t been called up to the squad since the end of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Notable omissions include Koke, Thiago, Paco Alcacer, and Marcos Alonso.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Three of Croatia’s last five games have seen over 2.5 goals. The same has happened in all of Spain’s last five matches (both across all competitions).
  • In fact, Spain have scored at least two goals in each of their first four games under Luis Enrique’s tutelage.
  • The recent H2H record gives the edge to Spain, with three wins in their past five meetings with Croatia (W3, D1, L1).
  • Spain have their UNL fate in their hands, and only need a win to clinch the top spot in Group 4, League A.
  • Meanwhile, Croatia must win their remaining two games to clinch the top spot. And right now, they look like the most likely team to get relegated.

Conclusion

Croatia need the three points to keep themselves alive on the Group and avoid relegation to League B. Meanwhile, Spain need to win in order to clinch a spot in the next round of the competition. Therefore, we could be in line for a very open encounter.

Expect this one to feature at least three goals and a plethora of scoring chances.

Verdict: Over 2.5 goals – yes

Best Odds: 11/10

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juan Pablo Aravena


A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.

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