UEFA Nations League: Spain vs Croatia preview

World Cup finalists Croatia start their UEFA Nations League campaign with a very difficult away match, they take on former World and European champions Spain at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero in Elche on Tuesday. The two teams have last met at the 2016 European Championship, and back then Croatia secured a 2-1 victory in the group stage but both teams qualified for the successive round. Before that match, Croatia had never defeated Spain, losing three matches out of four.

Spain started their adventure in the UEFA Nations League with a good result last week, they won 2-1 against England at Wembley Stadium, fighting back with goals from Saul Niguez and Rodrigo Moreno after Marcus Rashford had opened the scoring early on. That gave new head coach Luis Enrique a solid start in command of the national team and he is unlikely to make major changes to his starting eleven. However, striker Iago Aspas might lose his starting place against Croatia after his disappointing performance against England.

Croatia have done wonders at the FIFA World Cup this summer and they were even hoping to bring the trophy home but France defeated them in the final. Sometimes it is very difficult for a team to bounce back after having missed out on such a huge achievement, but Croatia seem to be just fine. Last week they played a friendly match in Portugal and they secured a 1-1 draw. Central midfielder Domagoj Vida picked up an injury during that match and that might be a big problem as fellow central defender Dejan Lovren was already unavailable. Mario Mandzukic and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic have retired from international football after the World Cup.

Probable line-ups:

Spain: De Gea - Carvajal, Nacho, Ramos, Alonso - Niguez, Busquets, Alcantara - Asensio, Moreno, Isco

Croatia: Kalinic - Vrsaljko, Jedvaj, Mitrovic, Barisic - Modric, Rakitic - Pjaca, Kovacic, Perisic - Santini

My prediction: Spain to win 2-1, the home side are stronger and Croatia have some injury problems.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Spain win - 1.70
Draw - 3.75
Croatia win - 6.00

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