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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Spain should follow up Wembley win with victory over Croatia

Austria have the tools to beat Bosnia

Harry Maguire of England and Iago Aspas of Spain in action
1 of 1

7.45pm Tuesday

Spain kicked off their Nations League campaign with a 2-1 victory over England at Wembley on Saturday and they can ease six points clear of their League A Group 4 rivals by beating Croatia in Elche.

The World Cup was a major disappointment for Spain, who failed to convince in the group stages before crashing out in a penalty shootout loss to Russia.

But new head coach Luis Enrique is determined to take them back to the top and he got a great response from his players at the weekend.

Spain played with plenty of quality and desire against England, recovering from a slow start to claim a deserved victory, and Enrique will not want all the good work to be undone by a poor result against Croatia.

The Iberians have plenty of respect for Croatia, who defeated them 2-1 in a group-stage clash at Euro 2016.

But Croatia will be nothing like as strong as the side who reached the World Cup final this summer.

Ivan Rakitic is expected to return after being rested for last Thursday's 1-1 draw away to Portugal but, of the team which started against France in Moscow, only six players (Sime Vrsaljko, Domagoj Vida, Rakitic, Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Ivan Perisic) are available.

Spain also have players missing, notably Jordi Alba and Diego Costa, but possess greater strength in depth and on the basis of their excellent performance against England they look solid odds-on favourites.

Austria have racked up eight wins in their last nine internationals, the exception being a 3-0 loss to Brazil, and look overpriced to start their Nations League campaign with an away victory against Bosnia.

Luck was on Bosnia's side as they defeated Northern Ireland 2-1 in Belfast on Saturday - they lost the shot count 26-5 - but it will be tough for them to follow up against improving Austria, who triumphed 2-1 at home to Germany in a friendly this summer.

2pts 8-11 bet365, Betfair, Betfred
1pt 21-10 general

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Austria have racked up eight wins in their last nine internationals
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