Friday, July 12, 2024

Spain 3-0 Croatia: What Were The Main Talking Points As La Roja Open Their EURO 24 Adventure With A Major Statement?

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, European Championships 16 Jun 2024

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Putting in what was an empathic performance on Saturday evening, Spain opened their EURO 24 adventure with a thumping 3-0 victory against Croatia in Berlin.

While La Roja might have been preparing for what appeared to be a stern Group B opener, the three-time European champions run rampant throughout the first-half.

With the trio of Alvaro Morata, Fabian Ruiz and Dani Carvajal all getting on the scoresheet prior to the half-time break, Luis de la Fuente’s men couldn’t have asked for a better start here.

While Croatia might have seen Bruno Petkovic miss a second-half penalty, the Blazers failed to find any kind of fluidity and were completely outplayed across the park.

On an evening when Spain opened their European Championship adventure with a major statement of intent, we have taken a look at the main talking points from Saturday’s showdown in Berlin.

Spain make a thumping statement

Suffering major World Cup frustration out in Qatar 18 months ago as they eventually fell to Morocco at the Round of 16 stage, it is no secret that Spain opened this summer’s European Championships with plenty of pressure on their shoulders.

However, enjoying what was a major qualifying romp last year and storming their way to Germany, La Roja have their sights firmly set on mounting a genuine charge over the next month.

While the European giants might have faced a stern examination on paper this weekend, Spain certainly made a major statement of intent here and their performance would have certainly been acknowledged by the likes of England and Spain.

Although La Roja might still have a squad that lacks experience at the major tournament stage, they do appear to be enjoying life since their World Cup exit in the winter of 2022.

Breezing past a Croatia squad that have continued to gain a reputation for their success on the major tournament stage, all eyes will certainly fall on the Veltins Arena on Thursday night when they meet defending champions Italy for what is a heavyweight showdown.

Croatia have an almighty challenge on their hands

Making major history out in the Middle East 18 month ago as they secured an iconic World Cup bronze medal, Croatia have only continued to receive a string of plaudits from across the globe over recent times.

While the Blazers might only have a population of just under four million, they have underlined their status as one of Europe’s elite and had previously demonstrated that they can cause any of Europe’s heavyweights a real challenge.

However, although Croatia might have once again been looking to upset the establishment this summer, Zlatko Dalic’s men failed to find any kind of fluidity on Saturday evening and they were completely blown away by La Roja here.

Putting in what was a nightmare first-half performance and watching their six-match winning run come to an abrupt end, Croatia are simply looking to dust themselves down quickly and put in a better account of themselves.

Now facing what is a major uphill battle in the race to find a route out of Group B this summer, Dalic’s men will be next seen on Wednesday afternoon when they meet Albania.

Morata spearheads La Roja’s charge

While Morata might have received a huge amount of backlash following on from Spain’s World Cup exit out in the Middle East 18 months ago, the one-time Chelsea misfit has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround on the international stage.

Opening the scoring with a slick finish just before the half-hour mark here, the Atletico Madrid marksmen has only continued to shine since being appointed Spain’s new skipper last year.

Clearly relishing his new responsibilities and the focal point of La Roja’s charge, Morata has a leading role to play in Spain’s attempt to get their hands on a fourth European crown this summer.

Signing off his pre-tournament preparations with a goal against Northern Ireland last week, the 31-year-old appears to have hit top gear at a crucial time.

Notching 15 La Liga goals with Atletico last season and helping the Spanish heavyweights book another Champions League ticket, the former Real Madrid starlet has a crucial role to play alongside Barcelona youngster Lamine Yamal.

Match Report

Spain: Simon, Carvajal, Nacho, Le Normand, Cucurella, Rodri, Ruiz, Pedro, Williams, Morata, Yamal

Subs: Zubimendi, Olmo, Merino, Oyarzabal, Torres

Croatia: Livakovic, Gvardiol, Pengracic, Sutalo, Stanisic, Kovacic, Brozovic, Modric, Kramaric, Budimir, Majer

Subs: Sucic, Passaic, Petkovic, Perisic

Goals: Morata (29’), Ruiz (32’), Carvajal (45+2’)

Yellow Cards: Pedri

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Michael Oliver

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom has spent the past six years as one of our senior writers and betting experts. Alongside working with numerous publications from across the globe, Tom also graduated from the University of Falmouth in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Digital Media.
Spending almost the past decade working in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, he has also spent time featuring in sports radio. Tom can be followed on Instagram - @iamtomdunstan

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