All the talk of Croatia and Spain settling for a mutually helpful 2-2 draw in their final Group C clash, securing quarter-final spots for both and condemning Italy to an early exit, has meant bigger odds on the Spain win than you would usually find.
The reigning European and world champions are fresh from completing the most emphatic victory of the competition so far against Republic of Ireland last Thursday yet are 3/4 to build on it against Croatia.
Vicente del Bosque’s men have won six and drawn two of their last eight games at international tournaments and the two teams that they couldn’t put away in 90 minutes in that sequence were traditional challengers Holland and Italy.
Croatia by contrast, though impressive against a poor Irish side and late on in their come-from-behind draw with Italy, only qualified through the play-offs and are yet to indicate that they can hang with a side as strong as Spain.
Both of their attackers, Mario Mandzukic and Everton’s Nikica Jelavic, have performed well so far but they will find openings far tougher to come by against the holders, who have conceded just one goal in their last six tournament outings.
With clean sheets obtained against nations as established as Portugal, Germany and Holland in that sequence, they will be confident of another in Gdansk, so the Spanish clean sheet and win to nil markets offer considerable appeal.
The other noticeable Spain trend is that Del Bosque has been getting his striker selections spot on, with his most advanced player in the first game – Cesc Fabregas – scoring then and Fernando Torres firing when selected against Ireland.
So whoever is tasked with leading the line against Croatia has to be fancied to net first, with Torres 5/1 and Fabregas 11/2. The Chelsea forward looks the more likely starter, but the option exists to wait until the teams are announced before betting.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.