Preview: Spain vs. Croatia prediction, team news, and lineups

The first game of the highly anticipated Group B at the upcoming European Championship will occur in Berlin on Saturday, as Spain faces off against Croatia.

Spain has been victorious thrice in the European Championship, and although they reached the semi-finals in Euro 2020, Croatia has yet to progress beyond the quarter-finals in this tournament.

Preview of the Match

The four leading contenders for victory in Euro 2024 are England, France, Germany, and Portugal, while Spain is often overlooked. However, this skilled team possesses all the necessary qualities to emerge victorious this summer.

In 1964, 2008 and 2012, La Roja were crowned champions of the European Championship. Although they reached the semi-finals of Euro 2020, they were defeated by the eventual winners Italy in a penalty shootout. The two teams will once again face each other in Group B at the tournament, with Albania also competing in this highly competitive group.

It is possible for a team to progress to the next stage even if they finish third in their group. It is unlikely that Spain, Italy, and Croatia will not make it to the knockout round of the tournament.

Spain will come into this game in a commanding position, with victories in their two friendly games in June against Andorra (5-0) and Northern Ireland (5-1), as well as a draw against Brazil in late March.

Luis de la Fuente’s team is set to face Italy in their second Group B match on June 20, and will end their group stage with a game against Albania four days after. In this group, every point is expected to hold great significance.

In the past, Spain has emerged victorious in six out of ten encounters against Croatia. This includes a penalty-shootout triumph during their most recent clash in the 2022-23 UEFA Nations League final.

On March 23, 2024, Zlatko Dalic, the coach of Croatia, responded to the event.

The recent performance of Vatreni in the World Cup is truly remarkable, having achieved the runner-up position in 2018 and securing third place in the 2022 Qatar tournament.

Nevertheless, the country’s team was eliminated in the round of 16 in their two most recent participations in the European Championship. Despite this, their most impressive achievements in the tournament were in 1996 and 2008, when they made it to the quarter-finals.

Croatia will go into the game with a strong sense of self-assurance as they have triumphed in their previous six games in all tournaments, notably defeating Portugal 2-1 in a friendly match in their most recent outing.

Zlatko Dalic‘s team has suffered defeat in just two out of their previous 10 games across all competitions, and have managed to score a total of nine goals in their last three matches.

It is likely that Kockasti is well aware of the challenging nature of this section, however, the national team is confident in their ability to secure sufficient points to progress to the next round, even if it means settling for third place.

Squad Updates

On March 26, 2024, Spain's Rodri celebrates their first goal with fellow teammates.

At present, the Spanish team has several uncertainties, as their head coach, De la Fuente, has been secretive about his plans, and there have been limited indications about the starting lineup for this match.

Mikel Merino and Dani Olmo are both potential starters for the upcoming match. However, it is possible that they will be substitutes as Fabian Ruiz and Nico Williams are expected to be in the starting lineup.

Aymeric Laporte was initially scheduled to start, but the seasoned defender was absent from training on Thursday due to a muscle problem. Therefore, Nacho is expected to play in the centre instead.

The 16-year-old Lamine Yamal is poised to make history as the youngest player to ever participate in a European Championship, as he is expected to be included in the starting lineup on the right side for La Roja.

Dani Carvajal is set to appear in the team, after playing a key role in Real Madrid’s victories in both La Liga and the Champions League. It is anticipated that Alex Grimaldo will be given the left-back position in the team.

There are uncertainties surrounding the composition of the Croatian starting lineup, but the midfield is certain with Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic, and Marcelo Brozovic expected to play in that section of the pitch.

Lovro Majer has scored eight goals in 31 appearances for his national team and is expected to be part of the starting lineup, alongside Andrej Kramaric and Ante Budimir who may also feature in the attacking third.

Ivan Perisic is not fully fit due to a severe knee injury, which means he will probably begin the match as a substitute. It is expected that Marin Pongracic will be chosen to partner Josip Sutalo in the central defensive position.

The upcoming match will see Josko Gvardiol, who plays for Manchester City, facing off against his teammate Rodri. On the other side of the defence, Josip Stanisic from Bayer Leverkusen will also be present.

Potential Spain starting eleven:

Simon; Carvajal, Le Normand, Nacho, Grimaldo; Ruiz, Rodri, Pedri; Yamal, Morata, Williams

Possible starting lineup for Croatia:

Livakovic; Stanisic, Sutalo, Pongracic, Gvardiol; Brozovic, Kovacic, Modric; Majer, Budimir, Kramaric

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Tip: Spain and Croatia 1-1.

It is a challenging game to predict, and our initial prediction was a tight victory for Spain before ultimately settling on a low-scoring tie. Croatia deserves great recognition for their impressive performances in the World Cup, and we are confident that Dalic’s squad will be capable of securing a point in their first match against La Roja.

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