Experienced Spain has suffered a crucial loss at the hands of Croatia in their last group match of Euro 2016.
Spain gave up a 1-0 lead and will now face Italy in the Round of 16
Croatia fought back to win the match 2-1, ruining Spain’s undefeated streak of 15 matches at the Euros. It was also the first time that Spain has ever lost a game in a Euro finals tournament after leading in the match.
Ivan Periscic tore through the Spanish defence, playing an integral role in the setup of the first goal by crossing the ball to Nikola Kalinic.
He then ripped the heart out of the Spanish side with an 87th-minute winner.
Croatia played a brave style of football, sitting much higher up the pitch than Spain’s previous opponents.
They looked most dangerous on the counter, stringing together long passes with runs behind the Spanish defence.
This tactic will prove dangerous to Croatia’s opponents in the knockout phase. They’re disciplined in defence and lean on the attacking efforts of Periscic and captain Darijo Srna.
This pair spent the majority of this match flying down the wings, whipping crosses back to their teammates in central positions, heaping pressure on the ageing Spanish midfield. They also relied heavily on the efforts of star goalkeeper David De Gea.
In possession of the football, Spain lacked their usual class.
Possession statistics of only 57% told the tale of how Spain failed to retain the ball with their usual ease. The Spanish side struggled to spend time in their opposition’s half like they did against Turkey and Czech Republic.
As always, Spain looked promising going forward but in this fixture they lacked their normal ruthless nature in front of goal.
There were plenty of blushes at the back as Spain’s defensive chinks were exposed.
Sergio Ramos struggled to find his teammates when playing the ball out from the back and missed a crucial penalty chance, making him the first Spanish player to do so at the Euros since the 2000 tournament.
Modric le avisa a Srnadondetira Ramos, este le dice a Subasic. Busquets se percata de esto y le avisa a SR. pic.twitter.com/eT6BEJVepU
— Diego Ornelas (@diego_ornelas_) June 21, 2016
Spanish manager Vicente del Bosque told BBC he wasn’t overly disappointed by their performance.
“The players were sat in silence, they don’t enjoy losing,” del Bosque said.
“We had the game under control, I’m not going to defend our performance excessively but I think we played quite well.
“We didn’t hold on to the ball as well as we should have and weren’t ready for the counter attack
“But we’re still in the competition. We are not on the path we wanted to be but we have to rise to the situation.”
Spain now face a tough task when they take on fellow heavyweight Italy for a quarter-final berth.
If Spain manage to win this fixture, they will still have to line up against Germany, France or England in the final eight.
— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) June 21, 2016