By 90Min
September 10, 2018

Having edged out England in their opening UEFA Nations League opener at Wembley on Saturday night, Spain return home to face World Cup semi-finalists Croatia in Elche on Tuesday evening. 

A game many predicted as one of the last eight meetings during the World Cup this past summer was denied them after the hosts stunned Fernando Hierro's makeshift side. The two however will now clash in south-east Spain, in one of the more mouth-watering fixtures both world and international football could serve up.

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Here is all you need to know ahead of Tuesday night's clash at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero in Elche.


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As documented, Spain's victory in London against England was the perfect tonic for Tuesday night's hosts after their shock World Cup exit at the hands of hosts Russia during the summer.

Goals from Saul and Rodrigo on Saturday night notched three points to open Group A4, before Croatia arrive to open their own campaign.

Croatia played out a 1-1 draw against Portugal in a friendly in the Algarve last Thursday night - their first outing since the 4-2 defeat in the World Cup final to France - as Ivan Perisic's 18th minute effort was canceled out by Pepe's header shortly after the half hour mark.

With the Portuguese without Cristiano Ronaldo last week, Tuesday evening's clash in Elche will see the competitive stakes ramped up for Croatia.


Team News

Enrique has no further injury problems ahead of the game, but may tinker with his side in attack for the visit of the Croats.

Spain played a 4-3-3 system against England and could use the same system here. Isco was deployed in a wide role on the left over the weekend, as Iago Aspas shifted out to the right as Rodrigo played as number nine.

Aspas could make way for Alvaro Morata, with Rodrigo switching to a wider berth on the right, or alternatively join the Chelsea striker in a front two, that would see Isco drop in a more creative midfield role, with the possibility of Marco Asensio coming in on the right wing also.

Dalic will be without both his first choice centre-back pairing of Dejan Lovren and Domogoi Vida through injury, which leaves Croatia forced to name a relatively untested back two pairing.

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Bayer Leverkusen's Tin Jedvaj and Dynamo Kyiv's Josip Pivaric are the most likely candidates to step in, although Rangers man Borna Barisic is also an option.

Having retired from international competition, Vatreni will likely play Lovre Kalinic in goal in the stead of Danijel Subasic, whilst Real Valladolid's Duje Cop could lead the line for just his fifteenth cap, either side of Perisic and Marko Pjaca.

Croatia are set to match Spain's three-man midfield, with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic set to go head-to-head with their La Liga counterparts, as Marcelo Brozovic will probably force on-loan Chelsea playmaker Mateo Kovacic to settle for a substitute's role.


Prediction

The opening gambits of the Nations League have thus far been largely underwhelming, however, surely this one won't disappoint.

Whilst Spain will be keen to record successive wins in the Group and top the standings, Croatia will be eager to show their runners-up finish in Russia was no fluke in their first competitive game since July.

James Baylis - AMA/GettyImages

Not only is national pride at stake but more than a few domestic battles in the offing in Elche. Whilst the hosts have the greater passing ability, the Croats are arguably superior technically.

That makes the outcome of this tricky to call, with a draw the likely outcome. Will it be a goalless affair? The two sides could indeed cancel another out, but there should be goals on show.

Prediction: Spain 1-1 Croatia

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