Croatia vs SpainUEFA Nations League, KO: 19:45 Jun 18, 2023, De Kuip
CROATIA have defied the odds to reach the Nations League Final and they'll need to do it again to lift the silverware with Spain favourites for the showpiece game in Rotterdam.
The golden generation that reached a World Cup semi and final are still impressing in their silver years and it would be fitting if they delivered their nation's first trophy.
Luka Modric and Co would certainly deserve it, having topped a group containing France, Denmark and Austria before dumping the Dutch in their own backyard in the semi-final.
Both Admin and Mark thought home advantage would edge it for the Netherlands in midweek but Ronald Koeman's men were outplayed and didn't deserve the last-gasp leveller that took the game to extra-time.
To Croatia's credit, they bounced back from that blow to claim a 4-2 victory, with Modric putting the seal on it when he stroked home a penalty in the second period of extra time.
It looked like the other semi was also going to extra-time with Spain and Italy locked at 1-1 late on after two of my bets had landed. But Spanish sub Joselu pounced just two minutes from time to finish off Roberto Mancini's side.
Spain also deserved their victory after dominating the second half and their performance was a vast improvement on the shoddy display that saw them lose 2-0 at Hampden in the Euro 2024 qualifiers.
That has taken the heat off new boss Luis de la Fuente and he could now get his hands on a trophy just four games into his reign.
How the bookies view it
Spain are red-hot favourites to lift the trophy at 4/7 with Betfair while plenty of punters will fancy Croatia at 6/4 with McBookie, based on their display in the semi-final. For a win in 90 minutes, Betway price the Spaniards at 21/20 while the Croats are 29/10 at Coral. The draw at 90 minutes pays a best 13/5 with William Hill.
Head to head
Armchair fans will be hoping for a repeat of the last meeting between the sides, with Spain winning a 5-3 thriller after extra-time in the last 16 at Euro 2020. That edged them further ahead in the overall head-to-head, with five Spanish wins, three victories for Croatia and one draw.
Players to watch
Andrej Kramaric led the line well for Croatia in the semi-final and got himself on the scoresheet with a penalty. The Hoffenheim forward looks their best bet for a goal at 49/20 with Unibet.
Alvaro Morata missed a sitter for Spain against Italy but chances always seem to fall his way and the Atletico Madrid striker will fancy his chances of grabbing a goal in the final. The veteran is 41/20 with Unibet for anytime scorer.
Anything else catch the eye?
Both semis were pretty tasty affairs, with 12 cards flashed across the two games. Four of those went to Croatia so I like the 27/20 at Unibet for Zlatko Dalic's men to pick up over 2.5 cards in the final. Matteo Kovacic is 29/10 with the same firm to fall foul of the referee again.
Modric was the maestro again in midweek and will pull the strings for Croatia once more in the final. Unibet have him at 27/20 just to have a shot on target and that looks worth a punt.
This UEFA Nations League match between Croatia and Spain will be played on Jun 18, 2023 and kick off at 19:45. Check below for our tipsters best Croatia vs Spain prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.