Spain vs Croatia predictions and match preview for this weekend’s UEFA Nations League Final. Read on for analysis ahead of this showdown in The Netherlands.
|Date||Sunday 18th June 2023|
|Kick-Off||20:45 (local time)|
|Competition||UEFA Nations League|
Spain vs Croatia Preview
Spain and Croatia face off in the UEFA Nations League Final this weekend. The teams should know each other pretty well with some memorable recent meetings, most notably Spain’s thrilling 5-3 knockout win at Euro 2020.
Plenty has changed since then with Luis de la Fuente rather than Luis Enrique now in charge of the Spanish national team. There wasn’t exactly a wave of excitement and enthusiasm as La Roja headed into this week with a squad that felt relatively underwhelming on a number of levels, not to mention one that was on the back of a defeat to Scotland in Euro 2024 qualifying.
It’d be an exaggeration to say that all the doubters were silenced on Thursday night, but a 2-1 win over Italy now leaves Spain with an opportunity to win their first international trophy in 11 years. That would be a significant moment for the recently appointed boss and a positive way to bounce back from the bitter disappointment of a World Cup exit against Morocco. However in truth, it may just paper over some cracks for a side that on early impressions doesn’t appear to have a clear direction under new management.
Croatia will be stern opposition. After near misses at the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, there is a sense that this may just be their moment to win a trophy for the first time. They may feel as though they’ve already done the hard work, beating host nation The Netherlands 4-2 in an entertaining Semi-Final on Wednesday that went to Extra Time.
They are veterans of tournament football at this stage and aren’t afraid to go the distance as we saw at the World Cup when they stunned Brazil in the last eight. Luka Modric is still going strong with the 37 year old only replaced after he scored a 116th minute penalty to effectively kill off the Dutch in midweek. The Croatian players will certainly have been grateful for the extra day’s rest that playing on Wednesday rather than Thursday allowed them.
Score Prediction: Spain 2-2 Croatia (AET – Croatia to win on penalties)
It’s early days, but there is something pretty unconvincing about Spain under Luis de la Fuente, although winning a trophy would be a great way to silence the doubters and give some foundations for his regime, This will be tough though against what will be a highly motivated Croatian side that most likely knows this is their best chance of winning a trophy before star player Luka Modric retires.
There are usually goals when these sides meet and we should get a pretty open game, but if it goes the difference, you’d have to fancy Croatia on penalties given their much superior track record from 12 yards in recent years.
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