Croatia meet Spain in the last 16 in what would usually be considered a blockbuster game at a major tournament, and whilst this does still promise to be a good game, both sides have been disappointing at this years tournament. Both sides only won 1 of their group games, Croatia followed up a loss to England with a draw against The Czech Republic, and they needed two second half goals to see off a pretty average Scotland team. Spain drew their first two games against Sweden and Poland, and despite putting 5 past Slovakia in their final group game, Slovakia were awful in that game and Spain could have easily had more goals. Despite both teams being underwhelming so far, both will feel this is a game they can win, to set up a quarter final against either world champions France or Switzerland.
In their three group games at this years tournament, Croatia scored 4 goals, conceded 3, had 30 shots with 10 on target, they had an average possession of 55.33%, were given 5 yellow cards, no red cards and took 10 corners.
Spain in their group games scored 6 goals, conceded 1, had 48 shots with 19 on target, had an average possession of 76.33%, were given 4 yellow cards, no red cards and took 20 corners.
The bookmakers (All prices taken from Skybet) have Spain as the very strong 3/10 favourites to progress to the quarter finals, with Croatia 12/5 to make it through. Spain are 8/15 to get the job done in regular time with Croatia at 11/2 to win in 90 minutes and a draw in 90 minutes is 29/10.
The referee for this game is Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey), who this season has refereed 33 games, handing out 109 yellow cards and 6 red cards, for an average of 3.30 yellow cards per game and 0.18 red cards per game. In his career so far he has taken charge of 233 games, awarding 923 yellow cards and 53 red cards, an average of 3.96 yellow cards per game and 0.23 red cards per game.
As already pointed out I feel both teams have been pretty disappointing at the tournament so far, and even though Spain scored 5 goals last time out, I feel the bookmakers have the gap in price way too big. I don’t have an overly strong opinion on who will win the game, but I am confident this will be a close game with not much in it. Spain have had an incredible amount of possession at this tournament but for large portions of games have failed to do anything with it. Slovakia put in what was one of the worst performances at a major international tournament against Spain, and I really wouldn’t be getting too excited about this Spain side until they perform against one of the bigger sides. I think this game goes to extra time and potentially penalties, Spain will control possession but Croatia are well organised defensively and won’t be easy to break down, but I also feel Croatia don’t have the pace to be a deadly counter attacking team. I’m struggling to find much to separate the two sides and at just under 3/1 I think the match to be a draw is the best bet result wise. Whoever wins this game I don’t think they go much further, with world champions France waiting in the next round (unless Switzerland can spring a big surprise), so I see this being quite a slow and at times boring affair, with one side almost limping into the next round where they will be knocked out.
The best bets in this game are (All prices taken from Skybet)
The match to be a draw (90 minutes only) – 29/10
Either team to win on penalties – 11/2