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A mouth-watering fixture was on the cards as Croatia locked horns with Spain in a Round of 16 tie of Euro 2020. It checked all the boxes to be an intriguing contest, and it certainly lived up to the buzz as we had an 8 goal thriller in Copenhagen.



Spain march on to the quarter-finals after a 5-3 win over Croatia. La Roja showcased elegant football, second to probably just Italy. Their possession and positional-oriented fluid system and unparalleled coordination were a treat to watch. All critics around Spain’s inability to score goals have been hushed, as they have now scored 5 goals in two consecutive matches.



Croatia’s sheer determination to give it their all till the final whistle once again captured the hearts of football fans around the world. Croatia may have been eliminated tonight, but they definitely impressed by displaying the spirit of an underdog.

FootTheBall presents you two players that performed admirably and had a great influence on the game. We also bring you, two players, on the pitch who did not live up to expectations and simply had a terrible day overall.




Ferran Torres’ direct and agile game, combined with pinpoint crosses from the flanks, provided Spain with the flare they desperately needed. Creating chances out of nothing and providing chances from many metres out has been the 21-years-old forte and that’s exactly what he did today.

An insanely accurate cross from his weaker left foot was easily headed home by Azpilicueta, who had very little to do as Torres delivered the ball on a plate for him. He was a constant headache for the Croatian defensive line.



To cap off his scintillating performance, he also got himself on the scoring sheet after a ball from Pau Torres launched him for the counter-attack, and showing no signs of nerves, Torres sweetly finished it between the legs of the Croatian goalkeeper. He’ll be trying to replicate his performance from today in the quarter-finals as well and once again be decisive for his nation like he has been since his international debut.



Class is permanent has never been an overused cliché. As Croatia lost to Spain, Luka Modrić played his own battle: to beat the passage of time. He is Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up.
No player can make his team great on his own, but Modrić prevents Croatia from being much poorer. He goes around the pitch fixing and solving problems that would otherwise condemn them, but he offers solutions in any zone as if it were easy. He is the beacon Croatia turns to whenever they are in trouble.




He gave meaning to each possession, combining short passes to organise his side, first touches, body feints and ball carries to break lines, and longer deliveries to launch the attacks. He dropped alongside the centre-backs to provide clarity to build-ups and then left his distinctive mark in the opposing half. Croatia might have been knocked out, but Modric further elevated his dimension and appears a decade younger. But if this is the last time we have seen Modric in the Croatian colours, it’s been a real pleasure.


HONOURABLE MENTION- With a wealth of attacking prowess in Dani Olmo, Mikal Oyarzabal, and Gerard Moreno, Luis Enrique has opted to start Pablo Sarabia in the last two matches, and the PSG man has made the most out of this opportunity.

In today’s encounter, he certainly recreated his exploits from La Roja’s last group stage encounter against Slovakia, where he had the Slovakian defence in shambles as he scored one and assisted on another. Despite the fact that he only played a few minutes and that Dani Olmo, Morata and Oyarzabal were crucial in the clutch, his first-half effort dramatically shifted the tide in Spain’s favour.



The 29-year-old hauled his nation back into the game, scoring to make things level following a horrendous mistake from Unai Simon that had Croatia1-0 up. He has consistently pleased with his performance, and it will not come as a surprise if he starts in the quarter-finals as well.




Tired legs were quite visible from Laporte in the second half as well as extra time as he was unable to mark any runs that were being made by the quick Croatian attackers. Croatia’s two goals in short succession to pull them back into the game were the consequence of City’s man defensive errors, as no man-marking was evident in the penalty box.




Although defence is a collective duty and perhaps he wasn’t the only one responsible for Spain’s defensive woes in the second half, his overall performance certainly raised some eyebrows today. He’s had a decent tournament thus far but his performance today was highly sub-par.



While his midfield companion had another fantastic game, Marcelo Brozovic’s performance tonight was underwhelming. The Inter player was supposed to be the co-leader of his country alongside Modric, but he failed to live up to the lofty expectations when it counted the most. He wrote the storyline of the encounter by constantly losing possession of the ball in the middle of the field, allowing Spain to launch counter-attacks.




He did not impress defensively as well as he was unable to act as a shield for the Croatian back line to prevent or slow down repeated attacks from La Roja. Brozovic will try to put this tournament behind him and focus on the next Serie A season after miserably failing to replicate his club form with the national team.

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