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May 31, 2021 at 5pm UK
Spain U21sSpain Under-21s
Croatia U21sCroatia Under-21s
Puado (66', 110')
Mingueza (88'), Guillamon (90+3')
Ivanusec (90+4' pen.)
Musa (43'), Sutalo (63'), Bradaric (87'), Ivanusec (120+1')

Preview: Spain Under-21s vs. Croatia Under-21s - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Spain Under-21s vs. Croatia Under-21s - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Monday's European Under-21 Championship clash between Spain Under-21s and Croatia Under-21s, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Spain Under-21s will be looking to book their spot in the semi-finals of the European Under-21 Championship when they take on Croatia Under-21s in Maribor on Monday evening.

La Rojita advanced to this stage of the competition as Group B winners, picking up seven points from their three matches, while Mladi Vatreni claimed second in Group D to progress to the knockout round.

Match preview

Spain, as mentioned, topped Group B to advance to the quarter-finals, beating Slovenia and Czech Republic, in addition to drawing with Italy during a solid group stage.

Incredibly, La Rojita have never lost an Under-21 European knockout match before the final since the tournament format was introduced in 1998, and there is no question that they will be the favourites to advance to the semi-finals, where either Portugal or Italy will be waiting on June 3.

Spain have won five European Under-21 Championship titles, which is the joint-most in the history of the competition alongside Italy, and they are the holders, having triumphed in 2019.

Luis de la Fuente's side have not lost a single match at this level since 2019, while they comfortably dispatched Czech Republic in their last game on March 30 courtesy of a double from Dani Gomez.

The fact that Spain have lost just three of 39 European Under-21 Championship matches is an indication of the size of the task for Croatia, while they have not been beaten in a last-eight tie since 1990.

Croatia, meanwhile, are in the tournament's knockout round for the first time, managing to finish second in Group D behind runaway leaders Portugal.

England actually finished bottom of the section, with Croatia incredibly qualifying despite losing two of their three matches, including a 2-1 reverse to Aidy Boothroyd's side in their last game at the end of March.

Domagoj Bradaric's late stunner saw Croatia advance to the final eight, with England failing to win by the two-goal margin that was required to progress on goal difference.

Igor Biscan's side will undoubtedly be the underdogs against Spain, but they were victorious in the last meeting between the two nations at this level, running out 3-0 winners during qualification for the 2017 finals.

All three of Croatia's previous Under-21 European final appearances ended in the group stage, and this is almost a free hit for Mladi Vatreni, who certainly have players capable of causing De la Fuente's side issues.

Spain Under-21s European Under-21 Championship form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W

Croatia Under-21s European Under-21 Championship form:
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L

Team News

There are plenty of familiar names in the Spain camp, with Barcelona's Oscar Mingueza expected to be a part of the back four, potentially joining Real Betis defender Juan Miranda in the middle.

Fran Beltran, Marc Cucurella and Martin Zubimendi are likely to be the midfield three, with Abel Ruiz operating alongside Brahim Diaz and Bryan Gil in the final third of the field.

Javi Puado is also an option in the final third of the field, while Gonzalo Villar and Jon Moncayola will be pushing for positions in the middle of the park.

As for Croatia, Bradaric, Luka Ivanusec and Josko Gvardiol have been named in Zlatko Dalic's senior Euro 2020 squad, but all three players have been given permission to play in this match before leaving ahead of a potential semi-final.

However, Mihael Zaper and Luka Sucic have pulled out due to injury, while Dario Vizinger has also withdrawn ahead of the quarter-final contest.

There are not expected to be too many surprises in the Croatia side, with Petar Musa set to lead the line, while there should also be a spot in midfield for Nikola Moro.

Spain Under-21s possible starting lineup:
Fernandez; Guillamon, Mingueza, Miranda, Cuenca; Beltran, Cucurella, Zubimendi; Ruiz, Diaz, Gil

Croatia Under-21s possible starting lineup:
Semper; Bradaric, Sverko, Franjic, Sutalo; Moro, Ivanusec, Majer, Durasek; Kulenovic, Musa

We say: Spain Under-21s 2-0 Croatia Under-21s

Croatia, as mentioned, have the players to hurt Spain, but we are finding it difficult to back a surprise result here. La Rojita have so much talent across the field, and we are fully expecting the five-time champions to march their way into the semi-finals of the competition.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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