Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Croatia v Spain Match Analysis

Spain's place in the last 16 of Euro 2016 was already confirmed before they kicked off against Croatia thanks to 2 wins from their previous 2 games. Croatia sat on 4 points from their 2 games but were not guaranteed a place in the top 2. Vicente Del Bosque kept faith the same team that has served him well in the 2 previous games. Meanwhile Ante Cacic made 5 changes to his Croatia team with Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic not risked due to minor injuries.

In the early stages of the game it looked like the 5 Croatian changes would haunt Ante Cacic. Spain were at their sparkling best culminating in David Silva coasting a delightful ball across the box to Cesc Fabregas who lifted the ball over Daniel Subasic in the Croatia goal for Alvaro Morata to tap into the empty net. Spain didn't build on the promising start with some sloppiness creeping into their play. David De Gea made an uncharacteristic mistake taking too long to pass the ball and when he finally did he passed it straight to Ivan Rakitic who nearly made a fool of the Manchester United keeper with a audatious chip. Luckily for De Gea the bar and the post spared his blushes. On the cusp of half time the Spanish number 1 was finally beaten with Nikola Kalanic getting on the end of Ivan Peresic's ball from the left to beat De Gea with a super finish to make it 1-1. Kalanic did what Mario Mandzukic couldn't do in the last 2 games, run in behind the opposition defence and make the most of the the creative talents of the players around him.

The second half was a rather dull affair up until the the 70th minute when David Silva was brought down by Sime Vrsalijko. Unusually Sergio Ramos stepped up to take the penalty but was unable to convert with Daniel Subasic saving well to his right hand side. Big questions really do need to be asked as to why a central defender was taking a penalty when Spain have so many gifted players who could take a penalty and would take better penalties. Spain were made to pay for that penalty miss when Ivan Peresic stormed up the pitch into the box and beat David De Gea at his near bost to make it 2-1 to Croatia. The dark horses of the competition announced themselves with a fantastic win over the competition holders.

The win was even more impressive for Croatia considering the changes made to the team and the fact they were missing their best player Luka Modric. Winning the group has enabled Croatia to be in the same side of the draw for the Quarter finals as Belgium and Wales who are the only real threats to them not going far in this tournament. As for Spain, their lacklustre performance has cost them. Finishing second in the group has booked them a last 16 game with Italy who have been the best team of Euro 2016 so far. Should Spain get past Italy they have the prospect of facing France, Germany and England in the latter stages. One poor performance has made Spain's route to the final a real hurdle and for a team not playing at their best and playing frankly really lacklustre van Gaalesque football they go into these games against their fellow contenders as underdogs.

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