Croatia vs. Spain: Euro 2020 Odds & Game Pick

Both Croatia and Spain head into the Round of 16 on a high. Spain thrashed Slovakia 5-0 to earn the country’s only win of the 2020 Euros, while Croatia topped Scotland 3-1 to win their first and so far only match of the tournament. Now, these teams will square off for the right to play the victor of France and Switzerland in the quarterfinal round.

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Croatia

The Croatians enter Monday afternoon’s match as the second-heaviest underdog in the Round of 16, and with good reason, as they’ll do battle with an always dangerous Spanish side. Croatia finished second in Group D with a win, a loss, and a draw to go along with a plus-1 goal differential. But, all in all, the group stage could have gone much worse, as this team’s -2.44 expected goal differential is the worst mark of any team who advanced to the Round of 16.

Croatia have the worst xG differential (-2.44) of any team left in the tournament, creating 2.18(xG) and conceding 4.62(xG).

They face Spain next.#CRO #Euro2020

— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) June 25, 2021

Despite being such a heavy underdog, Croatia was actually the victorious side when these two countries met on the pitch, a 3-2 win back in November 2018. However, they’ve been a bit cold recently, as their triumph over Scotland was their first win in the last five matches and just the country’s fifth in its last 16. And now they’ll be without one of their top players.

The country’s top goalscorer at Euro 2020, Ivan Perisic, tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the clash with Spain. The Inter Milan winger has played in over 100 games in a Croatian shirt and is the only forward on the roster to start all three group stage matches. His loss will be a big one against one of the tournament’s biggest favorites.

Spain

The Spaniards couldn’t have asked for a betting launching pad into the Round of 16. Their 5-0 beat down of Slovakia could prove to be a springboard, as it was the side’s first win of the tournament, so far the biggest win of the tournament for any squad, and brings Spain’s record across the last five matches to an undefeated, yet somewhat uninspiring two wins and three draws.

On the surface, Spain’s six-goal output in the group stage is a bit underwhelming, especially when you consider five of the six finishes came in one match. However, Spain was actually doing everything except finishing. Unlike Croatia, who could have been much worse off given their expected goal differential, Spain’s group stage could have and probably should have gone much better.

Spain finished second in Group E with a 1-0-2 mark and a goal differential of plus-5, but they had a tournament-best 7.3 expected goals for and plus-5.5 expected goal differential. They also dominated possession and posted the best mark of the tournament at 68.7%, 7.4% better than any other country.

Game Pick

Anything can happen, of course, but it would be a pretty decent surprise if the Croatians were able to pull this one out against the Spaniards. Spain’s offense has been a bubble waiting to burst, piling up expected goals through the first two games with just a single actual goal to show for it before a five-goal explosion in the team’s third match. Spain is overall the stronger side, and perhaps most importantly the much deeper side, a trait that’s even more glaring with Croatia’s loss of Ivan Perisic.

I expect Croatia to come out strong and maintain play with Spain for much of the first half, but the second half will be a struggle, and Spain should put a few goals away to seal the deal before any additional time is needed to settle a winner. So it’ll be Spain moving on to the quarterfinal round while Croatia suffers heartbreak.

France vs. Switzerland: Euro 2020 Odds & Game Pick >>

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Mike Wagenman is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @mjwags23.

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