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Croatia and Spain will battle it out in Rotterdam to be crowned Nations League champions for the first time.
Both nations enjoyed chaotic semi-final victories. Croatia played Netherlands on Wednesday night and typically took the game to extra-time after conceding a 96th minute equaliser. However, goals from substitute Bruno Petkovic and the effervescent Luka Modric secured their place in the final.
Spain took on Euro 2020 winners Italy in their semi-final and Luis de la Fuente earned a huge victory in his early tenure thanks to a player he has personally banked on since taking the role, with much-maligned ex-Newcastle United striker Joselu stepping off the bench to score the winner.
The UEFA Nations League has produced wonderful drama again this year and we have the final covered for you with a stats pack, helping you create a winning bet builder. For more information on our stats pack guide, click here and to see who we are backing in the final, read on below.
Croatia vs Spain Predicted Lineups
Croatia likely to be unchanged for final
Croatia were underdogs going into the semi-finals but their ability to keep things tight, make it to extra time and let their quality shine was evident again and having been 2-1 up until the 96th minute, it’s likely that Zlatko Dalic will stick with the same XI. That means that vastly experienced Domagoj Vida, Ivan Perisic and Luke Modric will keep their places as well as goalscorers Andrej Kramaric and Mario Pasalic.
De La Fuente may call up on fresh legs
Spain could be at something of a disadvantage coming into the final having had a day less preparation and De La Fuente may make some changes to keep things fresh. Rodrigo was withdrawn at half-time for Marco Asensio in the semi-final while substitutes Fabian Ruiz and Ansu Fati will be pushing for starts in place of Mikel Merino and Yeremy Pino. Dani Carvajal is another that could enter the XI at right-back in place of 37-year-old Jesus Navas.
Croatia vs Spain Team Stats
Croatia allowing low quality efforts at goal
Croatia are seemingly happy to let opponents shoot at their goal, giving up over 12 shots per game in the Nations League and over 4.5 shots on target but the quality of those chances is minimal, allowing them to keep a decent defensive record despite an ever-changing backline. Cards are notable with over 1.5 for and against per game and five being dished out in normal time during their semi-final.
Spain drawing plenty of cards
When you keep the ball as well as Spain, you expect the opposition to become frustrated and that shows in their Nations League numbers. Spain are a dominant outfit in possession, shown in the lack of chances and goals conceded – their problem is often creating good opportunities. The quality of their play and technical prowess has led to a high number of cards against them – over two per game, something to note ahead of your Croatia vs Spain bet builder selections.
Croatia vs Spain Shots and Shots on Target Stats
Pasalic forming part of new Croatia attack
The Croatian attack has been one lacking consistency in recent times but Mario Pasalic is doing his best to force his way in. The 28-year-old managed two shots on target against Turkey during qualification and followed that up with two shots, a shot on target and goal against Holland in the Nations League semi-final. Elsewhere, Andrej Kramaric is on penalty duty and has had a shot on target in two of his three matches in 2023 for Croatia.
Morata enjoyed himself in the semi-final
Spain clearly had no issues creating opportunities against an often resolute Italian outfit and it showed mostly with Alvaro Morata, who had an impressive seven shots at goal and three shots on target with Joselu coming on for the final six minutes and managing a shot, shot on target and goal himself. Elsewhere, both wingers, Yeremy Pino and Rodrigo, mustered a shot on target and are worth keeping an eye on given Holland’s entire front three managed a shot on target against Croatia.
Croatia vs Spain Goals and Assists Stats
Same duo expected to strike for Croatia
Andrej Kramaric and Mario Pasalic are the two to keep an eye on for Croatia in the final. As noted above, Kramaric is Croatia’s penalty taker and they won two of them in their 4-2 win against the Netherlands while Pasalic has a goal and assist in his last two starts for Croatia as he makes a spot his own. Luka Modric is always worth looking at for Croatia too – he scored and assisted one apiece in the semi-final.
Morata ought to be backed
Alvaro Morata is much-maligned but his international record is impressive, scoring 30 goals in 42.7 90’s and though he didn’t score in their semi-final, he had a large number of chances created for him. If he doesn’t start, Joselu will be prime to take his opportunity – the Espanyol forward has hit double figures in his last four La Liga campaigns and has three in three since being brought into the Spain set-up.
Croatia Cards and Fouls Stats
Perisic a new and enticing option in the fouls market
Ivan Perisic isn’t afraid to commit a foul as it is but the one-time winger is now playing left-back for his national team and that has come with teething problems, evidenced by the high number of fouls he has committed. Protecting Perisic will be old-timers Marcelo Brozovic, who has committed over two fouls per 90 in the Nations League, including one during their semi-final, and Domagoj Vida, who committed three fouls during their semi-final.
Midfield duels could present value
Croatia’s defensive players committing a high number of fouls is notable here considering Spain’s forwards draw a lot of fouls from their opponents – Alvaro Morata and Gavi have been fouled more than three times per 90. Morata was clearly in the mood on Thursday, drawing four fouls as he tried to cause trouble. Rodri is the other player drawing fouls, perhaps expected given he is the Spanish metronome now – he was fouled twice on Thursday and Croatia will be at pains to stop him dictating proceedings.
Croatia vs Spain Key Matchups
Domagoj Vida vs Alvaro Morata
Marcelo Brozovic vs Gavi
Ivan Perisic vs Marco Asensio
Spain Cards and Fouls Stats
Forward players worth consideration
Spain’s game involves the team looking to press high up the pitch and stop the opposition playing through the thirds which involves a lot of fouls and breaking up of the game. Gavi was chief nuisance, committing four fouls, adding to his total of 2.75 per 90 in the Nations League overall, while Alvaro Morata, Aymeric Laporte and Robin Le Normand committed three fouls apiece.
Kramaric a man for the big occasion?
The latter two players are notable here considering Andrej Kramaric, Croatia’s first-choice striker, has been fouled just shy of twice per 90 and that continued in the semi-final with him drawing a foul on two occasions in his 89 minutes. Holland clearly attempted to stop Croatia at source in midfield and the deeper midfield pair Luka Modric and Marcelo Brozovic were fouled seven times combined – Gavi will have his hands full.
Croatia vs Spain key Matchups
Aymeric Laporte vs Andrej Kramaric
Gavi vs Marcelo Brozovic
Rodri vs Mateo Kovacic
Croatia vs Spain Bet Builder Tips and Picks of the Pack
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