Spain finally overcome Croatia in a Euro 2020 thriller as EIGHT goals are scored in Copenhagen, with Luis Enrique’s side throwing away 3-1 lead before netting twice in extra-time to win it
- Spain sealed their spot in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 after beating Croatia in a superb eight-goal thriller
- Croatia took the lead in bizarre fashion when Unai Simon mis-controlled Pedri’s back pass for a poor own goal
- But Pablo Sarabia crashed home through a crowd of bodies to haul Spain level after a penalty area scramble
- Cesar Azpilicueta then nodded them in front after Ferran Torres’ deft cross to the far post found the defender
- The result looked to have been wrapped up late on when the brilliant Torres turned from provider to scorer
- Croatia mounted a pulsating comeback, however, which was sparked into life by substitute Mislav Orsic’s shot
- Parken Stadium then erupted in jubilation when Mario Pasalic flicked home a header after Orsic’s good cross
- With time ticking down, Alvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal’s finishes sent Spain through in extra-time chaos
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here
In a tournament format that allows for three teams to advance from the group stage, can we not send both Spain and Croatia through to the quarter-finals as a show of thanks for this most wonderfully absurd game of knockout football?
Sadly, we cannot. But let us rejoice in the feast they served us here. The Parken Stadium deserved a happy ending to its hosting of Euro 2020, given the trauma of its opening game.
What it got was a match that will rank as the best of this European Championship and perhaps even several beyond, with a pair of protagonists who journeyed from sinners to saints.
Spain sealed their spot in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 after beating Croatia in a superb eight-goal thriller in Copenhagen
Mikel Oyarzabal was brought off the bench for the victors and netted the fifth goal that ultimately wrapped up the result
Oyarzabal and Alvaro Morata wheeled away in celebration, with Croatia’s players left dejected and out of the tournament
It was Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon and striker Alvaro Morata who swung this crazy contest in their country’s favour, and boy does the pendulum warrant a rest after this.
The story of Simon and Morata is one of redemption. Had Spain lost, they would still have made headlines, albeit for very different reasons.
Simon was guilty of gifting Croatia a first-half lead when allowing Pedri’s long-range back-pass to bounce through his seemingly invisible boot and into the net. On reflection, it set the tone for an utterly bonkers afternoon.
Morata, meanwhile, came into this game with his manager, Luis Enrique, demanding police take action over online abuse directed at the misfiring frontman and his family.
But that vitriol would only have intensified when he missed an open goal just seconds before Simon’s indiscretion for Croatia’s opener.
So we had our villains – the dodgy keeper and the forward who couldn’t hit a bull’s backside with a flamenco guitar.
Croatia (4-3-3): Livakovic 5; Juranovic 6, Vida 5.5, Caleta-Car 5.5, Gvardiol 5; Modric 7.5 (Ivanusec 113), Brozovic 7, Kovacic 7 (Budimir 79, 6); Vlasic 6.5 (Pasalic 79, 7), Petkovic 6 (Kramaric 46, 6.5), Rebic 6 (Orsic 67, 8)
Subs not used: Vrsaljko, Brekalo, Kalinic, Skoric, Badelj, Sluga, Bradaric
Goals: Pedri 20 (OG), Orsic 85, Pasalic 90+2
Booked: Brozovic, Caleta-Car
Manager: Zlatko Dalic 7
Spain (4-3-3): Simon 8; Azpilicueta 7.5, Garcia 5.5 (Torres 72, 5.5), Laporte 5.5, Gaya 5.5 (Alba 78); Koke 6 (Ruiz 78, 6), Busquets 7 (Rodri 102), Pedri 7.5; Torres 8 (Oyarzabal 88), Morata 8.5, Sarabia 7 (Olmo 72, 8)
Subs not used: de Gea, D. Llorente, Torres, M. Llorente, Moreno, Alcantara, Sanchez
Goals: Sarabia 38, Azpilicueta 57, Torres 77, Morata 100, Oyarzabal 103
Manager: Luis Enrique 7
Morata has been heavily criticised this summer, but defied his doubters to lash in the fourth goal and fire Spain back in front
The finish from Morata was superb, after a ball into the box picked him out and allowed him to turn and lash into the net’s roof
Morata was afforded a little too much time and space inside extra-time, and his strike soon sparked wild scenes of celebration
But come the end of this most absorbing 120 minutes, we had our heroes – and they were the same crestfallen duo who had earlier suffered such humiliation.
Not now, however. Simon had made a string of stupendous saves – most notably at 3-3 – while Morata was scorer of the equally stupendous goal that gave Spain an extra-time lead they would not relinquish.
But before we celebrate the winners, here is an all-too belated mention for the brilliant Croatia, who trailed 3-1 approaching the final five minutes of normal time only to draw level thanks to goals from a pair of substitutes during a breathless finale.
So where to start? Simon’s howler is as good – or bad – a place as any. The prize for own goal of the tournament will likely be more competitive than its more functional counterpart, although the lunacy of this belter will take some beating.
Croatia fought back from 3-1 down to force extra-time, with Mario Pasalic having netted at the far post in stunning fashion
Substitute Pasalic had ghosted into a free area just yards out from goal and applied the finishing touch after craning in the air
The majority of supporters at Parken Stadium were roaring on Croatia, and they were left in fits of ecstasy after the equaliser
Czech Republic’s Patrik Schick would have assumed his 50-yard strike against Scotland would be the only one from such range at this tournament. Well, he has company. Not that Spain midfielder Pedri will relish membership of that exclusive club.
The teenager had not long split Croatia’s defence with a pass of wonderful subtly when another back to his own keeper was more shuttle than subtle, a rocket from near halfway.
Simon opened his body as if readying himself to take a touch and launch swiftly downfield. He did eventually come good on that plan, but only when he booted the ball back towards halfway for the restart.
Spain had seen an entirely predictable 80 per cent of the ball to that point. But possession had equated to nine tenths of the bore. Falling behind at least saw some urgency applied to their intricacy.
Goalkeeper Unai Simon was left helpless deep inside stoppage time as Pasalic (third from left) latched onto another fine cross
Croatia hauled a goal back, taking the deficit to 3-2, when Mislav Orsic pounced from close range to prod just over the line
Ferran Torres capitalised on woeful defending to latch onto a free-kick, race in on goal and then slot home a composed finish
Cesar Azpilicueta scored his first ever goal for Spain to send them in front in the second half, having risen highest to nod in
And they were level when forward Pablo Sarabia lashed home on 38 minutes after a game of pinball inside the area.
They were then in front in the 57th minute, and those of a Spanish persuasion would have been thankful when the chance fell to their right back, and not their centre forward.
As it was, defender Cesar Azpilicueta arrived in the six-yard area to meet Ferran Torres’ perfect delivery and he made no mistake, unlike Morata with a header from similar range in the first half.
The excellent Manchester City winger Torres then made it 3-1 with a fine finish through the legs of Dominik Livakovic and that, seemingly, was that.
Not so. Croatia substitute Mislav Orsic forced a reply from close range on 85 minutes and he turned provider for Mario Pasalic to head a surreal leveller two minutes into injury-time.
Azpilicueta found himself in the thick of the action just yards out from goal, and he had powered home from a central position
Chelsea man Azpilicueta rushed over to celebrate at the corner flag, but Spain’s advantage would later be cancelled out
Pablo Sarabia crashed Spain on level terms after waves of pressure finally paid off, with the star capitalising on a scramble
Dominik Livakovic palmed out an initial effort, but Sarabia was quickest to react after the ball kindly dropped in his direction
Then, with Croatia on top early in extra-time, Simon somehow saved to deny Andrej Kramaric what looked a certain goal.
It proved a match-turning intervention and Morata soon had his moment of atonement, collecting a cross from Daniel Olmo and using his right boot to control and left to lash home. It was a stunning execution.
Morata was again involved in the goal that sealed victory, his pass freeing Olmo and he crossed for Mikel Oyarzabal to finish.
Enrique said: ‘I don’t remember a game like it in my career. It was epic. What stands out is the team’s ability to come good in adversity.’
When we reflect on this game in years to come, there will be nothing adverse about our memory of it.
Sarabia let loose his emotion and relief after smashing the ball in through a crowd of bodies to wipe out Croatia’s narrow lead
Simon was left red-faced and apologised after conceding one of the strangest own goals in European Championship history
A back pass from Pedri was angled towards Simon, who took his eye off the ball for a second and then mis-controlled horribly
With Simon left scrambling in no-man’s land, the pass ended up in the back of the net, and the stopper walked back to his goal
But Simon more than redeemed himself inside extra-time after plunging to his right to keep out Andrej Kramaric’s fine strike
Luis Enrique experienced a wild variety of emotions, but was eventually left overjoyed with Spain reaching the final eight
Re-live all the twists and turns from the clash in Copenhagen with the updates from Sportsmail‘s DANIEL DAVIS…
That was absolutely brilliant viewing, and I’m sure you enjoyed every minute of that! I know I certainly did.
We’ll have the full-time report up shortly, but for now, thanks for following our coverage!
119min: It almost was six, and this time it was Olmo who tried his luck!
Under no pressure at all, the playmaker wrapped his foot around the ball, but watched on as it clipped against the woodwork.
That would have been very harsh indeed on Croatia.
118min: Olmo clipped in a weak cross as Spain hunted for a sixth goal, but the ball was stabbed out in tired fashion.
The full time whistle is imminent, and will bring the best game at this tournament by a long stretch to an end.
115min: This is very tough for Croatia now. Morata was played through, but Livakovic narrowly the angle at the near post to save.
The striker wasn’t happy with the challenge from Caleta-Car, who tumbled into him after hurrying over to block, but there was nothing doing.
113min: Off went the legend that is Modric for Croatia, in what may be his final appearance at the European Championship.
He was replaced by Ivanusec.
110min: There are plenty of tired players out there now, and it does show.
For Spain, now it’s down to smart game management, and they look very dangerous on the counter when their substitutes break forward.
This looks like a bridge too far for Croatia.
107min: Croatia aren’t giving up without a fight! Just seconds after the restart, they came inches away from a fourth!
Budimir let fly from the edge of the area, but his effort fizzed agonisingly wide of the far post.
105min: We’ve had half-time in extra time, and we are back for what looks like the final period of this enthralling, all-time classic of a game.
Spain have scored five again! That really should be that.
It was Oyarzabal, another substitute, who handed them a two-goal cushion after another fine move.
Olmo again claimed the assist, after his team-mate was afforded time and space inside the box.
After that, he neatly tucked inside the bottom corner, and sparked wild scenes of jubilation among those adorned in red.
101min: Rodri was brought on for Busquets as Spain look to see this one out.
Kramaric’s low drive forced Simon into a comfortable take at the other end, but…
IT JUST HAD TO BE HIM! That’s a sublime finish!
Olmo delivered into the box for Morata to take down, and he did so in brilliant style.
One touch, then bang! His effort fizzed above Livakovic and into the roof of the net.
That one will silence his doubters now!
98min: Spain pose a threat on the counter-attack, however, and this time it was they who came close!
Olmo, who was thrown on during the second half, was the man who took the shot, but a diving Caleta-Car blocked it brilliantly.
For me, that would have hit the back of the net.
96min: WHAT A SAVE FROM SIMON! How on earth are Croatia now not 4-3 up? What drama!
Orsic somehow wriggled his way down the left and crossed into the packed box.
The ball bounced a couple of times, leaving Spain’s defenders all at sea, and Kramaric pounced to sweep in an effort.
Simon dived to his right, but stuck out a giant palm and pushed the shot away against all odds. He’s well and truly made up for his error now!
93min: Croatia have come inches away from taking the lead!
Spain were only able to repel a ball in as far as Orsic, who has been magnificent since he came on.
The hero for Croatia looked up and tried to curl an effort into the far corner, but it dropped just over the crossbar!
91min: Extra time begins at the Parken Stadium!
Wow, football is absolutely crazy, isn’t it? We have 30 more minutes to go in Copenhagen, and potentially penalties!
That’s a pulsating comeback from Croatia, against a Spain team who largely dominated the game.
But this one does! WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT?
I certainly don’t! It’s a really good goal as well, which was started and finished off by Pasalic.
He knocked the ball out to the right, and then headed into the box to meet the cross that was quickly dropped in.
The delivery from Orsic was sensational, and Pasalic couldn’t miss. We’re all square, somehow!
90+1min: Budimir flicked on a long, hoisted ball upfield, and the move eventually was worked to Kramaric.
The substitute lined up an effort, but he blasted off target. The offside flag was raised, however, so the strike wouldn’t have counted.
90min: We’re now into SIX added minutes! Is there time for Croatia?
88min: Spain have looked to respond to that with some fresh legs, with Oyarzabal replacing Torres.
It’s the commentator’s curse, and Croatia are back in it! We are in for a grandstand finish!
Modric did absolutely brilliantly just yards out when fashioning out a pull back, which was met by Budimir.
His strike was blocked on the line by Azpilicueta, which triggered a crazy scramble.
Orsic, the substitute, followed up by crashing one in, which looked to have been kept out by Simon.
But no, the goal was given by the goal-line technology! Drama in Copenhagen!
81min: Not long left to go now at all.
Alba and Ruiz were brought on earlier, in place of Koke and Gaya, as Spain look to see this out.
They’re looking very confident indeed.
79min: Croatia need a miracle now, and they have responded to that third goal with a double change.
Budimir and Pasalic have replaced Kovacic and Vlasic respectively.
That really should be game, set and match. Croatia were caught out napping at the back.
A free-kick was taken quickly and hoisted in behind for Torres to race onto down the right.
As the defender hurriedly tried to close him down, the Manchester City man deftly cut inside and rolled through Livakovic’s legs.
74min: Brekalo has been thrown on in place of Juranovic as Croatia look to save this game…
BUT THEY WON’T NOW!
73min: Morata had the ball in the net, but he was offside!
A free-kick was awarded to Spain and then lofted into the box, with Torres able to meet a knockdown.
In the end, it was Morata who turned home from close range but, agonisingly for him, he strayed beyond the last man.
72min: We’ve had changes at both ends.
Sarabia, who netted Spain’s first goal, has been withdrawn, with Olmo replacing him.
For Spain, Torres is on for Garcia.
70min: Simon was forced into action once again, although the flag was raised.
Kramaric raced on to a through ball in behind, which was angled down the right, but the stopper was out quickly to smother.
68min: Redemption for Simon, who has kept Spain narrowly in front!
The momentum has just swung Croatia’s way over the last few minutes, with the crowd urging them on to score that second goal.
They almost got it, too, but Gvardiol’s shot after Vlasic’s neat cut back was palmed away superbly by the goalkeeper.
67min: Orsic, who memorably netted a hat-trick against Tottenham in the Europa League last season, has been brought on to replace Rebic.
66min: As I say that, Rebic glanced up and tried his luck from just inside the box, but his effort was scuffed straight at Simon.
Croatia need more of that. Will they find it?
64min: Rebic looked to bring Croatia away down the right and inspired a bit of magic, and he pinged a pass into Brozovic.
His first touch let him down, however, and the move broke down.
The quality has been lacking for them in the final third, and they’re also yet to record an attempt on target.
61min: Well then, where do Croatia go from here?
Spain have looked dangerous going forward, and they tore through the high press for the second.
They need to turn this one around to reach the quarter-finals, but they look a little unsettled and out of balance currently.
The turnaround is complete, and it was Azpilicueta who found himself on the end of Torres’ cross!
It’s also his first ever goal for Spain, and what a time that was to get it.
He brought the ball up the field and laid off to Pedri, who in turn moved play on to the ever-dangerous Torres.
With a little too much time and space, Torres crossed into the box, and Azpilcueta directed a header beyond the rooted Livakovic.
54min: Pedri has looked truly at home out there in Copenhagen, and he found Sarabia out on the right with a swish of his right boot.
It’s a similar move to the one from a few minutes ago, but this time Sarabia opted to take the ball down and cross.
The delivery was fired in along the turf, but then cleared away.
51min: Torres’ deliveries have been absolutely on the money all evening, and he teed up Sarabia at the far post with yet another one.
The scorer of the leveller tried to cushion one across goal with the side of his foot, but Livakovic stood firm at the near post to catch.
By the way, that Pedri own goal has been recorded as being 49 yards out. Yes, you read that right, 49. It’s the longest ever own goal at the Euros.
48min: Unsurprisingly, Spain have re-emerged looking just as calm on the ball as before the break.
Morata was brought down in midfield by Gvardiol, and a free-kick was awarded around 30 yards out.
Koke took it once again, but his ball in was nodded away by Vida.
46min: The second half has begun in Copenhagen! Let’s hope for more of the same, eh?
Croatia made a change during the interval – with Kramaric on for Petkovic.
Morata blazed over the crossbar from around 35 yards out, and that brought an end to a thrilling first half’s action.
Spain largely dominated that, but somehow only find themselves on level terms.
They even fell behind in side-splitting fashion, with Pedri’s back pass mis-controlled by Simon and ending up in the net.
Spain rallied, though, and hauled themselves back into the game when Sarabia crashed home through a crowd of bodies.
Join us for the rest of the drama shortly!
45min: Simon was forced into action again with Croatia almost capitalising on a searching ball forward.
For a second, it looked as though Rebic would get there, but the goalkeeper hoisted back downfield to end the danger.
44min: Juranovic dug out a superb ball in towards the six-yard box in Spain’s area, but Simon was able to claim under pressure from Petkovic.
That was nice and assured from the stopper, and he will want to shake off that howler from earlier.
Incidentally, the own goal has now been credited to Pedri. That’s a tough one to take for the youngster, who didn’t do anything wrong.
42min: Back came Spain, almost immediately from the restart, and Croatia were forced to repel a series of corners.
At the end of the onslaught, Koke dragged a shot from distance well wide of the target, and Croatia were afforded a moment’s reprieve.
They really needed that. This has been pretty brutal at times from Spain.
There’s the equaliser, and it was fully deserved!
The pressure has been building from Spain, and it paid off in style after a hectic goalmouth scramble.
Gaya’s strike was pushed out by Livakovic, although it fell straight back into the danger zone, and Sarabia was on hand to rifle home.
It’s a smart finish, and more than merited in all honesty.
36min: They have been probing once again, but another half-chance came and went.
A clearance from a corner fell to Gaya from distance, who let loose a drive through a sea of bodies.
It fell through to Azpilicueta, who was onside, but his little touch on was diverted wide of the far post.
32min: Spain have just settled back into a nice rhythm after riding out the wave of chaos sparked by the opener.
They have played the better football so far, and missed two really good chances before conceding.
There’s still plenty of time left for a turnaround, too.
That comical own goal has really changed the complexion of this tie.
27min: This game has burst into life. Kovacic picked up the ball out on the left of the box, but fired off target after creating a bit of space.
Then, at the other end, Sarabia guided a header over the crossbar after another decent delivery from Torres.
25min: Spain are all over the place, and it is now Croatia who can smell blood.
Vlasic was able to race into the box and hold off Garcia as he came across, but his strike hit the side netting from a tight angle.
23min: Croatia have appealed for handball!
Kovacic moved play on to Petkovic, and Azpilicueta was deemed by his opponents to have handled when he tried to cut off a lay-off.
The referee was quick to save no, however, and play continued.
My. Word. WHAT a howler from Unai Simon! I can’t quite believe what I’ve seen there.
It’s yet another own goal at this tournament, and this one was just bizarre.
Pedri moved the ball back towards his goalkeeper, perhaps with a little too much power, and Simon looked to control.
As he did so, the pass clipped horribly off the outside of his boot and ended up in the back f the net. That’s a truly horrific mistake.
Against the run of play, Spain are behind!
19min: I don’t quite know how Spain haven’t scored, if I’m honest.
A delicious ball was clipped across to the back post by Torres after another incisive move, but Morata’s header was so poor.
Vida was able to scramble across to make the block, and any appeals for handball were quickly waved away.
16min: What a chance! Koke had to score!
Pedri did brilliantly to take in the ball out on the right, and then pick out his team-mate’s run through the middle.
Livakovic narrowed the angle somewhat, and Koke could only stab his effort straight at the goalkeeper, who saved with his feet.
The corner was then hacked clear by Croatia, who are truly up against the ropes currently.
13min: There’s the first real chance! That was really well worked by Spain.
Busquets picked out Morata with a lovely pass through the line, and he in turn opted to tee up Sarabia.
The following shot was hit with plenty of power, but could only hit the side netting.
11min: This time, it was Croatia’s turn to come forward on the attack, but Garcia was penalised for felling Pekovic.
Modric chose to move the ball on quickly, but Gvardiol’s cross into the box missed everyone.
9min: Spain were awarded another free-kick, pretty much in the same position as the first.
Koke again took charge of the delivery, but the ball in wasn’t the best.
As a result, Azpilicueta was forced to crane to edge a header on, but Livakovic collected with ease.
6min: Brozovic brought down Morata in midfield, handing Spain – who are adept at set pieces – a free-kick.
Sarabia directed the ball into the box, which was half cleared. A looping cross was then arched to Torres at the back post.
He did well to nod back down for Koke in the centre of the box, but he was unable to stretch enough to divert a shot at goal.
3min: It’s been a really good, composed start from Spain in this one.
Laporte looked to loft a lovely ball over the top, down that left channel and into the box, but Livakovic was out quickly to field.
1min: We are away in Copenhagen!
Spain got the ball rolling, kicking from left to right.
Spain really do mean business. They lined up and stood there impassively while their anthem boomed out around the ground.
As for Croatia, their players tried their best to belt out their own anthem, and the fans joined in from the stands.
It’s not quite as passionate as Italy’s, but you can’t deny the pure emotion on show from both teams.
Lovely stuff. Right, now for the football!
Croatia or Spain? Which of them will reach the quarter-finals, and move that bit closer to lifting the trophy?
Let us know what your predictions are!
We have just under ten minutes left to go now, so sort that final brew out and get settled down for the national anthems…
I’m really looking forward to this one.
Both teams are in the midst of their pre-match warm-up now with just under 15 minutes to go before we get the ball rolling in Copenhagen.
You’d have to say that Spain will marginally be favourites to reach the quarter-finals, but this has all the marks of a very close game.
Remember, we can go to extra-time and penalties should they be needed, although both teams will want to avoid that after a hectic season.
What a player this kid will turn out to be.
He’s already a superb player, sharp and creative in midfield, but he can only get better.
Today, he made history! He is now the youngest ever player to start a knockout game at the Euros, beating Wayne Rooney in the process.
Courtesy of OptaJose, Pedri is aged 18 years and 215 days. What were you doing when you were that old?
Like we discovered earlier, Spain fans are massively outnumbered by those supporting Croatia this afternoon.
That isn’t much of a surprise considering the sheer amount of people who took to the streets of Copenhagen holding those checked flags.
Still, there is a job to do for both teams today and the two sets of fans in the ground may be in for a rollercoaster of emotions.
Not long left now until kick-off!
This is where the tournament gets very interesting indeed!
A showdown with either France or Switzerland, who are in action at 8pm BST, awaits the winner of this tie in the last eight.
It’ll be a tight turnaround, with that game happening on Friday in St Petersburg, but it’s also one step closer to winning the trophy!
Back in Copenhagen, both teams have arrived and inspected the pitch at Parken Stadium.
And yes, Luis Enrique has rocked up in jeans.
The comments directed at Alvaro Morata after his poor start to Euro 2020 really have been sickening.
Last week, the striker said people threatened his family outside games, and also shouted ‘I hope your children die’ at him.
Boss Luis Enrique has described the abhorrent treatment as a ‘serious crime’ and wants the police to investigate.
Regardless of a player’s form, no-one deserves that level of abuse, and he’ll be hoping to prove a few critics wrong today.
There were a few question marks over who would replace Ivan Perisic out wide for Croatia today, and we now have our answer.
Step forward, Ante Rebic! Not a bad option, eh?
He will line up in a front three alongside Bruno Petkovic and Nikola Vlasic – and together, they will look to pose plenty of problems for Spain.
Elsewhere, Duje Caleta-Car has replaced Dejan Lovren, who is suspended.
It’s been a very difficult tournament for Alvaro Morata so far, and he recently opened up on the sickening torrent of abuse sent his way.
We’ll bring you the latest on this story shortly.
Luis Enrique has stuck by the misfiring striker, though, with Morata leading the line once again this evening.
Ferran Torres has replaced Gerard Moreno, meanwhile, with Jose Gaya in ahead of Jordi Alba and Pau Torres benched again.
Starting XI: Livakovic, Juranovic, Vida, Caleta-Car, Gvardiol, Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic, Vlasic, Rebic, Petkovic
Substitutes: Vrsaljko, Brekalo, Kramaric, Kalinic, Budimir, Pasalic, Skoric, Orsic, Badelj, Sluga, Bradaric, Ivanusec
Starting XI: Simon, Azpilicueta, Garcia, Laporte, Gaya, Busquets, Koke, Pedri, F. Torres, Morata, Sarabia
Substitutes: De Gea, D. Llorente, P. Torres, M. Llorente, Moreno, Alcantara, Sanchez, Rodri, Ruiz, Alba, Olmo, Oyarzabal
I don’t think it’s unfair to say that a lot of games at Euro 2020 so far have been edgy affairs often bogged down in midfield.
Croatia may have been keen to keep it tight for this one in search of a quarter-final spot, but Zlatko Dalic believes that approach won’t work.
‘It’s hard for Ivan but we have to adapt,’ he said on Perisic. ‘Ivan will be our biggest fan and God willing, he will join us in seven or eight days.
‘We were shocked by Perisic’s positive result, but we have been living with the stress of this possibility for a month. We are used to it.
‘We have a big number of players in this position. We will decide on a player who is a natural there, but I believe any of them can do well.’
On the actual clash, he added: ‘We need to win, to play a good game and be offensive. If we just defend we will not achieve anything.’
There are plenty of Croatia supporters about to cheer their team on this afternoon.
As the nerves and tension build, it should also be pointed out that there don’t seem to be as many Spain fans in and around Copenhagen.
What kind of effect could that have on the game?
Either way, those lucky enough to be there have been out on the streets drinking, partying and soaking up the sun.
That’s a big, big blow for them. The news was officially confirmed on Saturday evening, and Ivan Perisic misses out this evening.
He scored in the win against Scotland, which ultimately sent Croatia through into the last-16, but now must self-isolate for 10 days.
This comes soon off the back of Billy Gilmour, who had lined up against Perisic’s compatriots at Hampden, also testing positive for Covid-19.
To read the full story, give the link below a click.
Hi, all! Welcome along to Sportsmail’s live coverage of Croatia v Spain, the next clash of the titans at the last-16 stage of Euro 2020.
Both teams slowly grew into the tournament during their groups, with Spain in particular responding to their critics with a 5-0 win.
They have mainly flattered to deceive, however, and will look to improve on toothless displays against Sweden and Poland today.
As for Croatia, they finished second in England’s group, Group D, and qualified after an inspired Luka Modric helped them beat Scotland 3-1.
Both these nations will want to reach the next stage, and will certainly deem it a failure if they don’t, so the stakes are high once again!
Kick off is at 5pm BST, and we’ll bring you all the build-up and team news before we get underway.
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