Spain vs Croatia Betting Preview – 11/09/2018

Spain vs Croatia Betting Preview – 11/09/2018

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Spain vs Croatia

Spain host Croatia this evening in the UEFA Nations League, hoping to extend their lead at the top of Group 4 to six points following a 2-1 victory over England on Saturday. Luis Enrique makes his home debut as manager of La Roja, with the former Barcelona number one no doubt wanting to make a good start after his country’s disappointing World Cup campaign.

The two sides seem closely matched when you look at the form book, with Spain just coming out on top by three wins to two in their only six previous encounters. These games are usually tight affairs with all four matches this century having been separated by no more than a single goal.

Stability is key for the home side after a disastrous World Cup, with head coach Julen Lopetegui sacked on the eve of the tournament following Real Madrid’s announcement that he would take over at the Bernabeu later that summer. The team never recovered and were unceremoniously dumped out on penalties by home nation Russia at the Round of 16 stage having scraped through a group containing Iran and Morocco.

The job of rebuilding the 2010 World Cup champions falls to Enrique, capped 62 times by Spain between 1991 and 2002. He has already injected some fresh impetus, with their equalising goal against England borne out of the quick, incisive play that was so lacking this summer.

The victory over England gave Enrique the perfect start to life as an international manager, with his team being forced to come from behind to win 2-1 at Wembley Stadium. Marcus Rashford gave England the lead, but return strikes from Saul and Rodrigo ensured the visiting side would get off to a winning start in the UEFA Nations League.

Enrique has a wealth of options available to him in the Spain squad, despite seeing stalwarts of the national side in Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and David Silva all retire from international football over the summer. The next generation of players are now establishing themselves in the team, with Thiago, Isco and Marco Asensio all particularly exciting players to watch.

In stark contrast to the summer their opponents endured, Croatia come into this game as runners-up to football’s biggest prize, having exceeded all expectations in Russia. Tonight’s match will be their first taste of competitive action since the World Cup and it offers Zlatko Dalic’s team a chance to further establish themselves as a major footballing power.

Croatia drew 1-1 in a friendly against Portugal last week, Ivan Perisic again getting on the scoresheet – fresh from netting in both the World Cup Semi-Final and Final. The Inter Milan forward is a constant threat, while UEFA Player of the Year Luka Modric has the ability to turn a game on its head.

One notable omission is Mario Mandzukic, who recently retired from international football with a record of 33 goals in 89 appearances. Leading the line in Mandzukic’s place on Thursday night was AEK Athens striker Marko Livaja, who is expected to start again tonight. With Dejan Lovren, Ivan Strinic, Ante Rebic and Andrej Kramaric all missing through injury, this is a Croatia team that will be missing a number of key players.

However, this is still a team that will feature plenty of players that starred at the World Cup, such as Modric, Perisic and Ivan Rakitic and Croatia are one of the few international teams that boast a midfield that can rival Spain’s. Playing at home, it will fall on the shoulders of Modric and Rakitic to ensure Croatia have their own fair share of possession and don’t allow Spain to dominate the ball.

Predictions

Much of Croatia’s success is down to their mental toughness fostered through team spirit and they do have the players to cause their opponents some problems, but under Enrique Spain already look improved and home advantage could be the difference. We’re not expecting bags of goals in this contest between two well-matched international teams.

Recommended bet: 1-1 draw at 6/1 with BetVictor – BET HERE

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