Croatia vs Spain Euro 2020 Prediction, Odds, Betting Tips

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Croatia vs Spain Odds

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To Win to Nil Odds
Spain – Yes +155
Croatia – Yes +900

Croatia vs Spain Pick

Our Pick

Back Spain to win to nil. Luis Enrique’s side showed signs of clicking into gear in their final group game, and their tendency to dominate possession could bring another win and another clean sheet against Croatia in the round of 16.

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How to Watch Croatia vs Spain

Croatia vs Spain Information
Teams Croatia vs Spain
Location Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark
Time Monday, 28 June 2021, 12.00 PM EDT
How to watch ESPN

Spain Hoping That Goalscoring Woes Do Not Return In Last 16

Whenever a team is struggling to score goals, managers, pundits, and players tend to focus on the creation of chances. As long as a side is fashioning opportunities, so says the conventional wisdom, there is nothing much to worry about. The goals will eventually come, and when they do it might even be akin to an opening of the floodgates.

The logic is sound, but it does not always apply in international tournaments. Over the course of a 38-game league campaign, it is unlikely that a team will continue to waste good chances. But in a competition like the European Championship, an underperformance of expected goals (xG) can be fatal. That is why Spain went into their final group game knowing that defeat would see them eliminated from the tournament. There would not be any time left for Luis Enrique to wait for the goals to come.

Thankfully, the goals arrived just in the nick of time. Spain thrashed Slovakia 5-0 on Wednesday to advance to the knockout phase as runners-up in Group E. Alvaro Morata, the chief culprit when it came to profligacy in their prior meetings with Sweden and Poland, missed an early penalty, and the fans inside the stadium in Seville must have wondered if their team was destined to fail at Euro 2020. But Spain did not panic, and by the end of the match they had their just rewards.

There are still question marks over this team, even if the XI selected by Luis Enrique against Slovakia was an improvement on what went before. Spain can be one-paced at times, with a lack of speed and directness in the final third. They can be guilty of moving the ball too slowly and keeping possession for the sake of it. However, they ended the group phase with the highest xG of all 24 teams. Continue in that vein and Spain are contenders to lift the trophy.

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Croatia Have Midfield Quality but Can Lack Potency up Top

World Cup runners-up in 2018, Croatia have largely struggled to replicate the performances they produced in Russia so far this summer. At times this has felt like a tournament too far for this team, who are now without Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic – two stalwarts over the last decade. Like Spain, they have lacked an injection of speed in the frontline and have looked slower than some of their opponents.

It would, however, be a mistake to write Zlatko Dalic’s side off. Needing a win against Scotland in their final Group D outing to secure a place in the knockout phase, Croatia did not disappoint. Beating Scotland 3-1 at Hampden Park was no mean feat, with Luka Modric delivering one of the standout individual performances of the tournament to date.

Croatia were underwhelming in their previous games against England and Czech Republic, but they have the quality – not least in a midfield comprising Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic – to take the ball away from Spain at times.

Indeed, this will be an interesting tactical encounter. Spain will have more possession and Croatia will need to be patient without the ball; a momentary loss of discipline in terms of positioning is exactly what Luis Enrique’s side are primed to exploit. But Croatia must ensure they offer a sufficient threat going the other way, which is why Ivan Perisic – a player who always performs well for his country – could be the key man with his runs in behind.

A Low-Scoring Game Awaits Now That the Stakes Are Higher

Supporters often compel their team to adopt an attacking approach, urging them forward with the cry: “there is nothing to lose”. Soccer managers at international tournaments rarely share the sentiment. Luis Enrique in particular will know that he and Spain have everything to lose here, with a last-16 exit unlikely to be palatable to the fans back home. That will have an effect on Sunday’s game.

Spain will not take unnecessary risks in search of the opening goal. Even when they won Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, La Roja were not exactly free-scoring. In seven of 10 knockout games across all three competitions, they either failed to find the net or did so just once. This Spain team is not as good as those which represented the nation in 2008, 2010 or 2012, but we can expect a similar approach in terms of possession being used as a defensive tactic as much as an attacking one.

Spain have largely defended well at Euro 2020, even if Sweden did manage to cause them sporadic problems on the counter-attack. A clean sheet against Croatia is well within their grasp, though, so back a Spain win to nil in Copenhagen.

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Greg Lea

Expert on Soccer

Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]