Spain remain unbeaten in League A, Group 2 but have some ground to make up on group leaders Portugal and will be looking to do so on Sunday night. Played 3, won 1 and drawn 2 is their current group record and they will be determined for 3 points against the Czechs whom they draw 2-2 with in Prague last week. The Czechs too have fared well in a high-quality group which also contains Switzerland by taking 4 points from their 3 games played.
Rotation seems likely from both sides given the heavy fixture schedule after a long hard season and both managers have hinted there will be plenty of changes. Czech Republic manager Jaroslav Šilhavý in particular has suggested there will be plenty of changes by saying “maybe we will have to make more changes to the starting XI than for previous games“. Jan Kuchta, a thorn in the side of the Spain defence in Prague, is doubtful after his half-time withdrawal against Portugal, while one expected change is an opportunity in goal for Aleš Mandous after Šilhavý promised a run-out to all of his keepers.
Enrique has now overseen a seven-game unbeaten streak in all tournaments since Spain went down to France in last year’s final and Spain have also found the back of the net in each of their last 17 games since being held by Sweden at Euro 2020. Difficult to predict quite how strong both sides will go in this one but playing back on home soil and with a win a must, you would expect the Spanish to do the business.
Spain v Czech Republic Bet Builder Tips
Ferran Torres to Score or Assist
The former Man City forward really is a special talent and Pep Guardiola made no secrets of the disappointment of losing him to Barcelona in January. The 22-year-old was homesick and wanted to return to his homeland to play his football and there is a little doubt he is going to be a renowned name for the next 10 years in both club and international football.
His versatility across the forward line is a skill that is actually underrated. He can play anywhere across the front 3 and works well as a genuine winger, an inverted winger but can also do a job as a traditional number 9 as he showed at City. On his best position, Pep said “He came as a winger, but he can be a number nine. The smell – the strikers know intuitively where the ball will arrive. He has that talent.”
His numbers for someone still so young show Pep was right in what he said, the guy knows how to score goals. 13 in 27 for Spain is pretty spectacular and he is, without doubt, the main goal threat for Spain and the man they look to when trying to find a goal. He constantly looks for space, often by staying wide and hugging the touchline, but if the ball isn’t coming his way or if he sees a gap to run into he will happily move infield.
His cheat sheet stats show he is a guy who gets chances from his clever movement. He ranks highly for both shots and shots on target in this Spanish team. Against what is likely to be a much-changed/second-string Czech side, Torres who is expected to be allowed a more central role with Morata expected to be rested should be afforded chances to both create & score in this one.
Under 3.5 Goals
Granted, these two teams played out a 2-2 draw only a week ago, but expect this tie to be a much tighter affair in the summer heat of Málaga. Spain followed that result up with a 1-0 win over Switzerland while the Czech Republic lost to Portugal 2-0, and neither team are looking to be in prolific form.
Jakub Jankto’s absence for the visitors robs them of the player with the highest number of shots on target per 90 for them this season, while Spain will also be without leading goalscorer Álvaro Morata with Raúl de Tomás expected to start as Luis Enrique makes changes. De Tomás is still searching for his first international goal after four appearances.
Those changes will also mean that experienced Athletic Club defender Iñigo Martínez will start ahead of Eric García, a weak point in Spain’s defence, and that, combined with home advantage, mean a clean sheet is to be expected for Spain. With that in mind, the thought of the Spanish scoring 4 goals on their own doesn’t seem feasible either and under 3.5 goals seems a safe call. The heavy changes expected from both sides, particularly the visitors means they will pose little threat, even on the counter and the Spanish could well lack their usual fluency after a hard-fought win over Switzerland.
Just two of the last 10 Spanish games have featured 4+ goals and I can’t envisage this being a classic with the Czechs looking to frustrate. A 1/2-0 win for the Spanish seems the most likely scenario in this one.
Over 2.5 Cards to be Shown
Referee Cüneyt Çakır is no stranger to dishing out cards on the international stage, with an average of 3.11 per 90 over the last season, and Spain and the Czech Republic are likely to follow that trend. Spain’s matches in this international break have averaged 4.7 cards per match, and the Czechs have also registered 4 per match.
Among those to keep an eye on could be Tomáš Souček, who may have to handle the energetic Gavi and has odds of 3.25 to be shown a card. Shown a yellow card every 343 minutes for his national team, he’s been booked in two of his last five appearances.
Beyond just Souček, the heat of this tie with a humid 30 degrees Celsius forecast will likely lead to some lazy tackles from a pace-deprived Czech midfield, and Spain players like Gavi and De Tomás are known for their short fuse.
Spain will dominate the ball and I can envisage a tiring Czech side becoming frustrated in the Malaga heat (predicted to be 28 Celsius at KO) while the Spanish will, if necessary bring the Czech players down to stop dangerous counters which is the visitors likely only opportunity to score along with set-pieces.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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Spain v Czech Republic Predicted Line-ups
Spain predicted XI (4-3-3): Simón; Carvajal, Martínez, P Torres, Alba; Gavi, Rodri, Koke; Asensio, De Tomas, F Torres
Czech Republic predicted XI (3-4-3): Mandous; Zima, Brabec, Jemelka; Coufal, Souček, Sadílek, Zelený; Černý, Kuchta, Lingr
Spain v Czech Republic Cheat Sheet
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