Mark O’Haire’s Euro Tips – Spain v Croatia
Spain’s bid for a record third successive European Championships crown remains firmly on track after Vicente Del Bosque’s side produced a sublime performance to see off Turkey on Friday night.
Spain v Croatia, Tuesday 21st June 2016 (20.00), TV3
Goals from Alvaro Morata either side of half time ensured that the defending champions cruised through to the knockout stages of the competition, with Nolito also adding his name to the scoresheet in Nice.
Ante Cacic’s Croatia will attempt to derail the Spanish juggernaut when the two teams meet for the final Group D fixture on Tuesday night.
Croatia were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw against Czech Republic in their previous outing on Friday evening.
Ante Cacic’s men were left bitterly disappointed after seeing strikes from Ivan Perisic and Ivan Rakitic cancelled out in the latter stages of a match that the Blazers really should have won.
The Croatians will come into this fixture knowing that they will need to be at their very best against a Spanish side that has not tasted defeat in this competition for 12 years.
Crowd trouble and the concession of a stoppage-time equaliser overshadowed what had been a largely positive performance from Cacic’s charges against the Czechs, and the 62-year-old boss will be determined that his side hit the headlines for the right reasons when they line up against the European champions.
The win against Turkey was only the fourth time in their last 13 outings at the European Championships that Spain have managed more than two goals and Croatia will feel that, if they can keep things tight, they are capable of snatching a shock win given the vast array of attacking talent that Cacic has at his disposal.
Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric will be charged with the task of providing Croatia with a creative spark against the Spanish.
The dynamic duo will be familiar to their opponents, for Rakitic plays his club football for Barcelona, while Modric is a key man for European champions Real Madrid.
Both men have already scored in this competition and, if they can reproduce the kind of form of which they are undoubtedly capable, Rakitic and Modric will pose a significant threat to Del Bosque’s outfit, while veteran striker Mario Mandzukic will look to utilise his physical presence to unsettle Spain’s defensive unit.
Tough Nut To Crack
Spain, though, will be a tough nut to crack; Del Bosque’s team have conceded just one goal in their last 11 matches in this competition, with La Roja racking up a hugely impressive seven consecutive clean sheets at the European Championships.
Furthermore, the only previous competitive meeting between these two teams ended in a 1-0 win for Spain in this competition four years ago and, given that a share of the spoils would be enough to see both teams take their place in the knockout stages, the 12/5 quote for the match to end all square is likely to be a popular selection.
Spain, though, possess plenty of firepower, having hit an impressive 13 goals in their last four victories and, buoyed by the convincing nature of the win against Turkey, Del Bosque’s team will fancy their chances of getting amongst the goals once more against Cacic’s outfit.
La Roja will want to maintain momentum ahead of the knockout stages, but Croatia will pose problems for the Spanish and…
value lies in the generous even-money quote for both teams to find the net in Bordeaux on Tuesday night.
Both Teams To Score (Evens)
*Prices correct at time of publication.