The Spaniards go into this tie with a 100% record at Euro 2016 having narrowly scraped past the Czech Republic before blowing away Turkey in their opening two games.
Croatia, on the other hand, outplayed Turkey but only managed a one nil win before spectacularly capitulating to blow a two-goal lead against the Czechs in a game sadly remembered more for trouble in the stands than the great contest on the pitch. The Croatians will be hoping that all the talk revolves around the on the pitch exploits after tonight’s game rather than a condemnation of the revolting actions of a minority of fans that we saw last Friday.
Meanwhile, Spain will be hoping to secure top spot in group D with victory and maintain their hundred percent record in the tournament in Bordeaux. A 3-0 demolition of Turkey in their previous game which realistically could have been a much higher scoring affair for the Spanish will reassure both fans and players alike of the continued success of the Spanish team. Should they suffer defeat to Croatia, Spain would drop behind their opponents into second in the group, therefore meaning this game is of paramount importance for the Spanish.
Croatia: Subašić, Srna, Ćorluka, Vida, Strinić, Brozović, Badelj, Pjaca, Rakitić, Perišić, Mandžukić
Croatia had suffered a huge blow in that star man Luka Modrić is nursing a groin strain and unlikely to be fit to face the Spaniards, Ante Čačić has a choice between Pjaca and Liverpool target Mateo Kovacic in the centre of midfield.
Spain: De Gea, Bellerín, Piqué, San José, Alba, Busquets; Pedro, Thiago, Iniesta, Nolito, Morata
While there are no fitness doubts within the Spanish squad, Sergio Ramos is one yellow card away from missing the last 16 clash. Also, despite growing pressure from the Spanish media, David De Gea looks set to retain his place for this final group game instead of long time international servant Iker Casillas.
I feel that based on the evidence of the opening two group games, Spain may just have slightly too much for the Croatians to handle and as such it will be the Czech Republic who qualify for the last 16 of Euro 2016. The Croatians will be forced to wait and see what occurs in the other groups before they will know if they will advance the knockout stage.
Is my greatest hope that whichever way this group is decided we are talking 100% about the action on the pitch and not any unsavoury scenes in the stands at the end of this round of group D fixtures.
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