UEFA EURO: Croatia vs Spain Preview

A lot has changed since Croatia reached the FIFA World Cup Final three years ago without a doubt especially with key stars, Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Rakitic who have since retired from national duty, but Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric has some magic left in him and this was evident against Scotland after turning up the style to inspire Croatia to the last-16.

Spain peaked just at the right time in their crucial clash against Slovakia to set up an intriguing battle following underwhelming performances in the opening two matches in their Group.

Generally the Spaniards have dominated teams and played them out of the park but unfortunately they struggle to break opponents down and create clear cut opportunities and whenever they do poor finishing have let them down one to many times especially with Juventus marksman Alvaro Morata who’s been heavily criticized for being wasteful in front of goals.

Based on statistics Spain have created more attacks then most teams at the Euro’s so far ,apart from the Slovakia match, Spain have wasted chances and couldn’t break down Sweden and Poland with efficiency.

The Croatians have a very solid midfield where more often then not it wins them games and you suspect this is one of them matches where the game might be decided in midfield, step up Luka Modric, Matteo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic .

Don’t expect Spain to fold over considering the quality they have at their disposal such as Koke, Pedri and the experienced Sergio Busquets who produced a Man of the match performance in return following his absence due to Covid related issues.

KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH

CROATIA
LUKA MODRIC : The Croatia captain reminded everyone why he scooped the Ballon Dor in 2018 by producing a classic Modric performance in a high pressure game against Scotland where he netted a spectacular goal while also turning provider with an assist.

Just like an orchestra, Luka Modric controls and makes this Croatian team play, the little magician could prove to be the difference and iSpain will know everything about him so it’s important for Busquets and Co to keep an eye on him .

ANTE REBIC : With the absence of Inter Milan star Ivan Perišić in attack who contracted Corona virus, expect another Milan star Ante Rebic to step up, the AC Milan man is deadly in front of goal when presented with opportunities.

Rebic hasn’t took the competition by storm but write him off at your own peril . Rebic reached double figures in Serie A last season where he scored 11 goals for AC Milan and he remains a major threat for Croatia.

SPAIN

FERRAN TORRES : The speedy attacker has had an excellent debut season in the Premier League with Man City and you would expect him to play a key role for Spain in the competition particularly after opening his account with a goal against Slovakia in their last outing.

Blessed with explosive pace, skill and a good eye for goal, Torres can cause havoc for Croatia if left unattended, so expect the young Spaniard to keep Sime Vrsaljko and crew busy at the back.

ALVARO MORATA : This might come as a surprise to many following some poor displays in recent games by Morata but he’s one of the most experienced attackers for Spain and expect Luis Enrique to start the Juventus star against Croatia.

Morata has played for the biggest clubs in the world, Real Madrid, Chelsea Atletico Madrid, Juventus and that’s no coincidence, besides Morata has a point to prove coming into this game which makes him even more dangerous.

PREDICTIONS
This will be a very tight encounter but expect Spain to win and book their place in the quarterfinal

Written by Ntobeko Mbambo

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