Croatia host Spain in a crucial UEFA Nations League match on Thursday evening, kicking off at 8:45pm local time. Croatia are at the foot of the group with only one point from them opening two games, with Spain in top spot with 6 points, having played one game more.

Home Team: Croatia

Croatia had become everyone’s second team at the World Cup, as players such as Ivan Perisic, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic and Golden Ball winner Luka Modric impressed the masses as they reached the World Cup final, and eventually lost to France in controversial fashion. Croatia will still feel hard done by with the first two goals they conceded in that match, with them both being dubious decisions. Croatia haven’t reacted from the World Cup in the best of ways, after being embarrassed 6-0 at Spain the opening UEFA Nations League match. Their following match saw them draw 0-0 at home in a non-atmospheric with their World Cup semi opponents England. Despite no goals and only one point, Croatia do have it all in their hands. They have two games to play, and if they win both they will advance to the UEFA Nations League finals next summer, but if they fail to get a victory in either, they will likely be relegated to Group B for the next UEFA Nations League in two years’ time.

Away Team: Spain

Spain are in command of the group and will progress to the UEFA Nations League finals if they win here, and a draw will still put them in a strong position. However, a defeat to Croatia will give the Croats or England an opportunity to leapfrog them in the group on match day 6 on Sunday. Spain will hope that a successful UEFA Nations League campaign will help make up for a rather abysmal display at the World Cup, as they only defeated Iran at the elite competition in the group stage, before losing to hosts Russia at the last 16 stage on penalties. New manager Luis Enrique has brought a belief back, and Spain are noted down as the 2nd favourites to win the inaugural UEFA Nations League. In their first two matches, they had won 2-1 at Wembley against England, and then beat Croatia 6-0 in an emphatic style. The side has a more youthful look to it now, as Sergio Ramos and Sergio Busquets are the old guards but surrounded by players with a promising future such as Marco Asensio, Daniel Ceballos and Paco Alcacer.

Head to Head

The sides have met 7 times in their history, with the three most recent fixtures being in competitive competitions. In the European Championships in 2012, Spain were victorious with a 1-0 win in the group stage which condemned Croatia to elimination. Four years later, Croatia got their revenge by winning 2-1 at the group stage, as both teams progressed to the latter stages. The most recent fixture was back in September when Spain won at a canter, winning 6-0, with 6 different scorers.

Predictions and Betting Tips

Croatia are slight underdogs at 13/5 to get a victory here, with Spain at 21/20. For the sides to cancel each other out, that is priced at 23/10. I am going to have to back the latter, so I would tip a 1-1 draw at 5/1. Croatia need to get the victory, and will hope to finally score a goal in this competition, so that extra desire may get them some success here, but Spain have abundance of quality and will expect them to avoid defeat. For both teams to score and it to end in a draw, that is at 10/3. To earn some bigger money on this match, it may be best to attempt to predict the half time/full time result. I’d tip for one of the teams to be leading at half time, for the other team to peg them back so back either Spain/Draw or Croatia/Draw, both priced at a generous 14/1.

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