Spain vs Croatia tips: Back a winning start for La Roja

Group B kicks off on Saturday afternoon (1700) as Spain faces Croatia in a mouth-watering clash at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

Aymeric Laporte of Spain.
Aymeric Laporte of Spain. Picture: AAP Image

Spain and Croatia will clash in a titanic tussle in Group B on Saturday afternoon, with Italy and Albania squaring off later in the day.

The Spaniards reached the semi-finals of the last European Championships, while Croatia matched that achievement at the World Cup and won the third-place play-off.

Their last tournament meeting came at Euro 2020 as the two national teams served up an instant classic in the round of 16.

Trailing 3-1 with five minutes to go, Mislav Orsic reduced to deficit before Mario Pasalic struck in the second minute of added time to force extra time.

Spain scored two goals in the first half of extra time and managed the remaining minutes to win 5-3 and progress, but the game will live long in the memory.

La Roja are once again the favourites, but Zlatko Dalic's side can never be written off. Unlike previous tournaments, this group is largely in their prime.

Luka Modric doesn't age and the likes of Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic, and Andrej Kramaric, although on the wrong side of 30, show no signs of slowing down.

Spain, having been on the podium three times in the past four European Championships, reached the tournament by winning seven of eight matches in qualifying.

Preparations went smoothly as they predictably made lightwork of Andorria, winning 5-0, and Northern Ireland, whom they beat 5-1 while coming through camp with no new injuries.

Qualifying life was tougher for the 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia as they finished second to Turkey in a group containing Wales, Armenia and Latvia.

However, they faced much stiffer competition in their warm-up matches. After beating North Macedonia 3-0, they stunned Portugal with a 2-1 win in Alges.

Key stats

-  Spain have scored at least three goals in five of their last six matches

-  Spain have won six of eight meetings with Croatia across all competitions

-  Croatia are unbeaten in 10 matches, winning eight and drawing two

-  Mikel Oyarzabal scored four goals in Spain's warm-up matches

Suggested bets

Spain to win

Over 2.5 goals

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