Spain vs Croatia – UEFA Nations League: All you need to know
The action from the UEFA Nations League continues this week with former World Cup winners Spain taking on 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia.
The three-time European champions crashed out of the tournament in Russia at the feet of the host nation, losing 3-4 on penalties.
Meanwhile, Croatia proved to be the dark horse of the tournament, beating Argentina, Russia and England en route to the final in Moscow.
The two teams face each other for just the seventh time. Here is all you need to know about the Nations League clash including when is it on, what are the team squads and how to watch it on TV.
Croatia beat Argentina, Russia and England to make it to their first ever World Cup final
When is the Spain vs Croatia match?
The Spain vs Croatia match will take place at 7.45pm on Tuesday, 11 September.
Where will the Spain vs Croatia match be held?
The match will be played at the Manuel Martinez Valero stadium in Elche. The 33,732-capacity stadium is the home of the La Liga Segunda Division team Elche FC.
How to watch the Spain vs Croatia match on TV
The game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports with the kick-off scheduled to be at 7.45pm BST. Sky customers can also stream the match on the Sky Go app.
The Now TV day pass is also available for £7.99.
Spain vs Croatia squads
Goalkepeers: David de Gea (Manchester United), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea), Pau Lopez (Betis)
Defenders: Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Nacho (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Diego Llorente (Real Sociedad), Inigo Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Jose Gaya (Valencia), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Marcos Alonso (Chelsea), Raul Albiol (Napoli)
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Sergi Roberto (Barcelona), Rodri (Atletico Madrid), Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid), Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich)
Forwards: Isco (Real Madrid), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Rodrigo Moreno (Valencia), Alvaro Morata (Chelsea), Suso (AC Milan)
Goalkeepers: L. Kalinic (AA Gent), D. Livakovic (DInamo Zagreb)
Defenders: D. Vida (Besiktas), I. Strinic (Sampdoria), D. Lovren (Liverpool), S. Vrsaljko (Inter Milan), J. Pivaric (Dynamo Kiev), T. Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen), D. Caleta-Car (Marseille).
Midfielders: L. Modric (Real Madrid), I. Rakitic (Barcelona), M. Kovacic (Chelsea), M. Badelj (Lazio), M. Brozovic (Inter Milan), F. Bradaric (Cagliari)
Forwards: I. Perisic (Inter Milan), N. Kalinic (Atletico Madrid), A. Kramaric (Hoffenheim), M. Pjaca (Fiorentina), A. Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Spain vs Croatia head-to-head
Head-to-head it looks like it could be a very closely contested match. Spain and Croatia have only faced each other on six occasions, with the 2010 World Cup winners edging the win tally with 3 to Croatia’s two. There has been one draw.
In terms of goals, the difference is slight: Spain have put seven past Croatia while Croatia averaged a goal a game so far.
However, the teams’ last five games paint a different picture. Spain had a messy 2018 World Cup campaign after the country’s FA sensationally sacked the team coach Julen Lopetegui just a day before the start of the tournament, following the announcement that he would replace Zinedine Zidane as the Real Madrid coach.
The team drew 3-3 with Portugal in an enthralling opener before scraping a win over Iran, sensationally drawing with Morocco and ultimately losing to Russia on penalties in the last 16. Their Nations League run got off to a good start following the 2-1 victory of England.
Meanwhile, Croatia had a brilliant World Cup, knocking out the likes of Argentina, Russia and England on their way to the final against France. Croatia captain Luka Modric collected the Golden Ball for best player of the tournament following the 4-2 defeat to France.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić said: ‘This is not a must-win match for us, but a good result would keep our mood positive and it’s much nicer when you win. That’s why we want to win every match, but we are playing against a Spain team which didn’t meet their expectations at the World Cup and are highly motivated now.
‘It will be a tough match, so I think a draw would be good for us as well. Croatia are the World Cup runners-up and all teams will be motivated against us – and we have to be aware of that.’
Spain manager Luis Enrique said: ‘We will attack from the start. We’ll try to have the ball, generate more chances than our opponents, press as high as possible. We need to dominate the important phases of play, that’s our plan.
‘We will be aggressive in that sense. We have the power to evolve our model, I am convinced we will do it. We will see how effective we are, but the objective is to evolve and stop being predictable.’
Prior to their Nations League opener, Croatia drew with 1-1 with Portugal in a friendly.
Spain vs Croatia odds
Despite a rocky World Cup campaign, Spain are the favourites to win the tie with Betfair having them down as 8/11 compared to Croatia’s 18/5. The odds on a draw are 13/5.
What is the UEFA Nations League?
The UEFA Nations League is a brand new international competition that replaces one autumn friendlies with competitive matches where countries face similarly-ranked sides.
The competition is split into 55 footballing associations, placed in four Leagues according to their position in the UEFA Coefficient Ranking.
The winners of the four groups of League A progress to the UEFA Nations League finals in June 2019.
The rest of the teams battle it out for promotion and to avoid relegation. There is also a potential route to Euro 2020 up for grabs.
Each league is then subsequently broken down into four groups, with teams playing each other home and away in September, October and November. In addition, the four top teams will automatically qualify for the UEFA Euro 2020 finals.
Spain has already played England, the other team in the League A group 4, beating Gareth Southgate’s men 2-1. Tuesday’s game marks Croatia’s first in the Nations League.