Croatia v Spain, Tuesday June 21
Bordeaux, Live on BBC1, 8pm
The final matches in Group D take place on Tuesday night with the Czech Republic meeting Turkey in Lens and Croatia meet Spain in an absolute humdinger of a tie at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux.
Croatia – the story so far
A win for Turkey on Tuesday night would see them top Group D, one point ahead of Spain. A draw in this match would mean that Croatia would finish second behind Spain, and even a loss would keep Croatia in 2nd place, unless the Czech Republic beat Turkey and end up with a better overall record.
In all honesty, Croatia will be kicking themselves that qualification from the group isn’t already assured after they squandered a two goal lead in their last match against the Czech Republic. Croatia looked deadly in their first game against Turkey, despite only winning 1-0, and after Ivan Perisic and Ivan Rakitic gave them a deserved two goal lead against the Czechs they should have been looking at 6 points from 6.
Finishing second in the Group comes with a nasty surprise around the corner… Italy, already confirmed as winners of Group E will play second place in Group D, so a win in this one is very important.
Spain – the story so far
Spain have only ever lost once to Croatia – a friendly victory in 1994, and with 6 points from 6, they know that a draw int heir final game will be good enough for 1st place in the group and a favourable Round of 16 match against one of the 3rd placed teams.
Spain got away with a late winning goal in their opening match against the Czech Republic but came to life in their second group match against Turkey where they stormed into a two goal lead by half time, and spent the second half running rings around their hapless opponents. Defensively, Spain have looked completely untroubled so far, and David de Gea has hardly been tested.
This match should prove to be Spain’s first real test of the tournament and they will need to be aware of the threat Croatia pose – especially in the air, where Croatia have attempted more headed shots than any other team. The Croatian midfield consists of three men with a real Spanish pedigree. Mateo Kovacic and Luca Modric both play for Barcelona and Ivan Rakitic plays his club football for Barcelona. The passing in this one should be excellent, but Spain should have the edge.
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