The Stadion Maksimir is the venue for Spain’s final match of the Nations League group stage, with La Roja hoping to land a win that would guarantee them a place in the League A play-offs.
They beat the same opponents by a 6-0 scoreline in September and it’s little surprise that the bookies have them pegged as strong favourites to win Thursday’s clash, with Ladbrokes going 11/10 that Luis Enrique’s side are celebrating in Zagreb.
The squad remains largely unchanged to the one that was selected for the previous round of internationals that saw England surprisingly record a 3-2 victory in Seville and the visitors will look to avoid being counter-punched as they were on successive occasions in that clash.
Croatia recovered from that drubbing in Elche to draw 0-0 with England in Rijeka and the Blazers are clearly a competent side who have bags of experience within the ranks and will have some home supporters in the ground unlike the clash with the Three Lions.
Morata to Score First
Zlatko Dalic’s side are 11/4 with Betway to claim a first Nations League win and that would give England a very real chance of winning the group. Conversely, it would also mean that Gareth Southgate’s side could be threatened by relegation when they clash with Croatia at Wembley.
Nevertheless, the Spanish side appear to be enjoying a new lease of life under Enrique and they already have a victory at Wembley under their belts, with Alvaro Morata boasting an impressive strike rate for the national side and he’s 4/1 with William Hill to open the scoring here.
We might expect the visitors to dominate possession based on previous matches and Bet365 chalk up a generous 12/5 that La Roja lead at half-time and full-time in this clash, while a repeat of that 6-0 thrashing has been priced at 200/1 with Betfair for those that expect a case of history repeating.
Croatia Fighting to Survive
Croatia will consider this match as one that they probably have to win in order to stay alive in the top tier of the Nations League and they demonstrated at the World Cup that they are capable of competing with the best in the world.
If the Blazers do get their noses in front, you can bet that they will want to then defend for their lives and try to squeeze home, with Ladbrokes going 8/1 that we see them celebrating a slender 1-0 victory which would throw open the group.
Luka Modric is likely to be on penalties and will come up against several of his Real Madrid teammates, with BetVictor making the former Tottenham midfielder a 9/1 poke to break the deadlock and he will be joined in the middle by Ivan Rakitic who is a bigger 12/1 on Paddy Power’s First Goalscorer sheet.
Croatia are without a goal in the Nations League thus far and Spain are a meaty 5/2 to enjoy a win to nil in this encounter, with the home side twice the price at 5/1 to do the same and they’ll be out to scrap their way to a positive result.