Prediction: Spain vs Croatia – Soccer News


Verdict: Over 1.5 goals

Best Odds: 4/11

Bookmaker: Luckster

With all eyes falling on Berlin this weekend, Spain and Croatia will open their respective EURO 24 adventures when they meet on Saturday evening.

Spain

Starting with Spain, while La Roja might have suffered major World Cup frustration out in Qatar 18 months ago as they crashed out at the Round of 16 stage, the European giants have come roaring back in an eye-catching fashion. Breezing their way to this summer’s tournament and wrapping up top spot in Group A, Luis de la Fuente’s men have their sights set on mounting a genuine title charge over the next month. Signing off their pre-EURO 24 preparations with a routine 5-1 romp against Northern Ireland, Spain have suffered just a single defeat from any of their previous 12 straight appearances across all competitions. Crowned Nations League champions for a first time last summer as they secured a famous penalties victory against Croatia, the three-time European champions will be looking to make an early statement of intent here.

Team News

Finding the net against Northern Ireland earlier in the week and recording a 35th international strike, Alvaro Morata will lead out Spain on Saturday evening. Cementing his spot as La Rosa’s number-one choice between the sticks, Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon will earn a 41st cap in Berlin.

While Barcelona ace Pedri might have dealt with a string of injury issues last season, the 21-year-old will will partner Manchester City’s Rodri at the heart of Spain’s midfield. Expected to complete a move to Atletico Madrid this summer, Robin Le Normand will start at the back.

Croatia

As for Croatia, claiming a famous World Cup bronze medal finish out in Qatar 18 months ago, the Blazers have continued to gain a string of plaudits from across the continent. Continuing to prove that they sit among Europe’s elite, Zlatko Dalic’s men find the mood in their camp at a red-hot high. Signing off their pre-EURO 24 preparations with a major statement earlier in the week as they clinched a 2-1 victory away at Portugal, Croatia are riding a major wave of momentum. Despite suffering Nations League heartbreak at the hands of La Roja last summer, they have remarkably won all of their previous six consecutive appearances across all competitions. Despite being pencilled in as an underdog contender on Saturday evening, Dalic’s side have continued to prove that they should not be underestimated under any circumstances.

Team News

Making real history at Wembley earlier in the month as he secured a sixth individual Champions League medal, Real Madrid icon Luka Modric will lead out Croatia on Saturday evening and earn a 176th international cap here. Recording 15 Bundesliga strikes with Hoffenheim last season, 32-year-old Andrej Kramaric will spearhead Croatia’s charge in Berlin.

Crowned a Premier League champion with Manchester City last season, Mateo Kovacic will join Modric at the heart of Dalic’s midfield. Enjoying a hugely impressive maiden campaign with Pep Guardiola’s side, Josko Gvardiol should start at left-back.

Key Factors to Consider

  • When Spain and Croatia last met in the Nations League final last summer, La Roja claimed a famous penalties victory.
  • Spain have suffered just a single defeat from any of their previous 12 straight appearances across all competitions.
  • Croatia have won all of their previous six consecutive appearances across all competitions.
  • Spain have notched 13 goals in just their last three pre-tournament friendlies.
  • The Blazers have won all of their previous three straight showdowns on foreign soil by an aggregate score of 8-3.

Conclusion

With all eyes falling on Berlin this weekend, neutrals will be hoping for a thrilling Group B opener on Saturday evening. Although Spain might have continued to shine since their World Cup exit 18 months ago, Croatia have gained a fearsome reputation for their success on the major tournament stage. Signing off their pre-tournament preparations with a stellar 2-1 victory away against Portugal, the Blazers are in the midst of another real purple patch. In a contest that tends to produce plenty of drama, we are expecting what could be an enjoyable affair.

Verdict: Over 1.5 goals

Best Odds: 4/11

Bookmaker: Luckster



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