The UEFA Nations League may be a new competition but it could well be an almost instant hit, with mouthwatering ties such as this one from the get-go. Spain, already with three points in the bag after beating England on Saturday, has a chance to take control of the group when it takes on Croatia in Elche on Tuesday evening.
Luis Enrique looking to continue solid start as Spain boss
New Spain coach Luis Enrique got off to a winning start with a narrow 2-1 win over England on Saturday. The Three Lions had a late goal ruled out, but in all honesty a draw would have been harsh on the visitors, who had controlled the game for the vast majority.
Considering the fact that several key players have retired since the World Cup, including Andres Iniesta, the performance from a younger generation was encouraging, to say the least. With that in mind, Spain should come into this home clash with Croatia full of confidence.
And it is indeed the Spanish who come in as the overwhelming favorites to make it two wins out of two to kick off their UEFA Nations League campaign on the right foot. La Roja are at just -138 to take all three points, with visitors Croatia further out at +450 to pick up a win on the road.
Spain beat England 2-1 at Wembley and that scoreline could repeat itself here. We like the look of a 2-1 win for Luis Enrique’s side at a price of +750.
Croatia looking to spoil the party
Having gone all the way to the World Cup final in Russia earlier this summer, Croatia played its first game since then last week. They held Portugal to a 1-1 draw, but it was an insipid performance from the Croats, who will need to seriously up their game if they are to cause their hosts any serious difficulties.
Zlakto Dalic remains at the helm of the Croatian ship and with an experienced squad at his disposal will start to think sooner rather than later about blooding the next generation. For now, his main issue is trying to keep Spain at bay and he would look to have a considerable task on his hands.
His attacking options have also been shorn by the international retirement of Mario Mandzukic. His immediate deputy, Nikola Kalinic, is not in the same class and it may well fall to Ivan Perisic to now try to find the goals for this side – Perisic is at +350 to find the back of the net in Elche.
Spain has wealth of attacking options
Luis Enrique seems to have the very opposite problem. While without what you might term a traditional No. 9, the talent pool at the manager’s disposal can hardly be described as shallow – and that includes in the squad for this match.
Rodrigo Moreno scored the Sportsbook at Wembley and will be hungry for more goals in front of a home crowd. We like the look of the Valencia striker to get on the scoresheet again at a price of +160, while you can back him at +450 to score either the first or the last goal of the game. Only Alvaro Morata (+130) and Iago Aspas (+160) are at shorter odds than Rodrigo to net during the 90 minutes.
Spain may well have lost some key cogs in their machine but with the likes of Thiago Alcantara and Saul finding top gear, they should still compete for trophies on a regular basis. Expect to see goals in this one too, and you can back OVER 2.5 goals in the game at +120 as La Roja find their creativity ingenuity ticking in front of a home crowd. Croatia may have reached the World Cup final but is likely to be brought down to earth with a bump in Elche.