Group D at the Euro 2016 tournament wraps up on Tuesday, June 21st when first-place Spain takes on second-place Croatia in Bordeaux. Spain have guaranteed themselves a top-two finish in the group and a berth in the round-of-16 knockout stage. However, Croatia can still take first place in the group with a win on Tuesday. Spain leads the group with six points from two wins with Croatia behind them with four points from a win and a draw. The Czech Republic sits in third spot with one point while Turkey is fourth and last with no points. Spain is currently ranked sixth in the world by FIFA and Croatia is ranked 27th. Spain is seeking its unprecedented third straight European Championship crown with Croatia seeking its first.
Spain managed to beat 30th-ranked Czech Republic 1-0 in Toulouse in their opening match on a goal with just three minutes to go by Gerard Pique. They then made it two straight victories with a 3-0 win over 17th-ranked Turkey in their second outing. Goaltender David De Gea of Manchester United recorded both clean sheets. Spain is the reigning European champion, but the team struggled at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as they failed to advance from the group stage. They won the Euro 2008 and 2012 competitions and have gone undefeated in their past 14 European Championship matches with their wins over the Czech Republic and Turkey at this tournament.
Spain vs Croatia – 5Dimes Soccer Betting Line:
- the 5Dimes sportsbook currently lists Spain as the favorites at 21/20 with Croatia 29/10 and a draw at 13/5
Spain vs Croatia – Head to Head:
- These two nations last met in June of 2012 with Spain winning 1-0 in a Euro 2012 contest. The sides have met just five times in the past with Spain winning three, losing one and drawing one. Croatia won the very first meeting 2-0 in Spain in March of 1994. Spain has outscored Croatia 6-4 in those contests.
Spain played five pre-tournament games this year and managed to draw in Romania and Italy. They also beat the Korean Republic 5-1 and Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-1 at home, but lost their last outing 1-0 to Georgia. It’s obvious they’ve recovered from that defeat with the way they’ve started out at Euro 2016. Veteran Iker Casillas is one of the three goaltenders along with David De Gea and Sergio Rico. There’s been an ongoing debate among fans over who should start, Casillas of Portuguese club Porto or the younger De Gea, an so far it looks like De Gea has definitely been the right choice.
Spain reached Euro 2016 by winning their qualifying group with nine victories and one defeat, which came against Slovakia. They also outscored the opposition 23-3 in their qualifying clashes. The Spanish squad has a wealth of experience with defenders such as Pique, Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal, Jordi Alba, Cesar Azpilicueta and Juanfran. The midfield features stars such as Bruno, Sergio Busquets, Koke, Thiago, Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Cesc Fabregas. However, going into the tournament some fans believed the forwards could be their weak point as they’re relatively inexperienced on the major tournament stage with the likes of Aritz Aduriz, Nolito, Alvaro Morata and Lucas Vasquez. Morata has done well though with two goals against Turkey and they’ll get a sterner from Croatia.
Croatia managed to edge Turkey 1-0 in their opening contest as Luka Modric scored the only goal of the encounter just before the referee blew the halftime whistle. The team then had a prefect chance to qualify for the next stage of the event after they took a 2-0 lead against the Czech Republic courtesy of goals by Perisic and Rakitic. However, they allowed the Czechs back into the game without about 15 minutes to go and then collapsed. The Croatian fans didn’t help matters as the game was delayed for several minutes with about five minutes to go. Once the referee resumed play Croatia conceded the tying goal on a last-minute penalty kick.
The worst Croatia can do in this group is finish in a tie with the Czech Republic with four points. For this to happen Croatia needs to lose to Spain and the Czechs would have to defeat Turkey the same day. The tiebreaker system would then go into effect, but the third place country will almost certainly go through as one of the tournament’s four best third-place teams. Modric is questionable for this game as he left the pitch with an injury against the Czech Republic.
by Ian S. Palmer