Ivan Zezelj’s Croatia v Spain preview: Croatia face tough test to reach last eight
Our Matchday Squad journalist will be covering Croatia throughout Euro 2020
Croatia finally got three points at Euro 2020! Zlatko Dalic’s team qualified for the knockout phase with second place in Group D, behind England, thanks to a strong performance against Scotland, Luka Modric’s trademark goal, and a generally positive impression.
Croatia’s dominance over Scotland reminded me of the 2018 semi-finals against England. Modric gained the lead on the pitch once more and shone with a stunning goal. However, in addition to the captain, the great efforts of Nikola Vlasic and Bruno Petkovic, as well as, unbeknownst to many, Josip Juranovic, who ended up in the first team as a big surprise, deserve to be mentioned.
Now comes Spain, Croatia’s toughest possible opponent in the knockout stage of the game. But you can’t just dismiss Croatia.
The 6-0 humiliation in Elche remains painful, but the 3-2 victory in Zagreb and the 2-1 victory at Euro 2016 provide encouragement. Ivan Perisic has been a consistent performer in the games against Spain. With two goals and an assist, Inter Milan’s winger is presently the greatest Croatian player in the tournament.
The result, and the performance, arrived as soon as Dalic quit tinkering. If he continues like he did against the Scots, Croatia will have their chance. Strange or not, Croatia performs best under duress and when everyone expects it to fail.