• Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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BusinessDay

Euro 2024: Preview and predictions as Spain battle Croatia

Spain

Three-time European champions Spain begin their UEFA Euro 2024 campaign on June 15 when they face Croatia at Olympiastadion in Berlin on Saturday.

La Roja secured their spot in Euro 2024 by topping Group A in the Qualifiers, maintaining a comfortable four-point lead over Scotland. La Roja enters the tournament in excellent form, having won their recent friendlies with impressive 5-0 and 5-1 victories.

Croatia missed out on winning Group D in the Qualifiers, finishing behind Turkiye. With key players like Luka Modric, Domagoj Vida, Mateo Kovacic, Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic, Ante Budimir, and Andrej Kramaric in the later stages of their careers, this tournament may be their last chance to secure a major international title.

The last encounter between Spain and Croatia was in the UEFA Nations League final, ending in a goalless draw before Spain won 5-4 on penalties.

Predictions
Spain, excluding penalty shootouts, has lost only two of their last 22 matches at the Euros (W13 D7), with both defeats coming against Croatia and Italy in the 2016 tournament.

La Roja are expected to progress to the last 16, having reached the knockout stage in six of their last seven Euros appearances, the only exception being in 2004.

With a 9.6% chance to win the tournament, Spain is the fourth favourite according to predictions, behind England (19.9%), France (19.1%), and Germany (12.4%).

Head-to-Head Stats
Spain and Croatia will meet for the fourth consecutive European Championship. Spain won two of the previous three encounters (1-0 in the 2012 group stage and 5-3 a.e.t. in the 2020 round of 16), while Croatia won the other (2-1 in the 2016 group phase).

Excluding penalty shootouts, Spain has lost only two of their last 22 European Championship matches (W13 D7), with defeats against Croatia and Italy in 2016.

Spain has reached the knockout stages in six of their last seven appearances, missing out only in 2004.

Spain’s last 50 goals at the European Championships have all been from inside the box, with the last long-distance goal being Raul’s strike against Slovenia in 2000.

Alvaro Morata has scored six goals across the last two UEFA European Championships, trailing only Cristiano Ronaldo (8) and Antoine Griezmann (7).

Key Players to Watch

Spain: Alvaro Morata, a consistent scorer in recent European Championships, will be crucial for Spain’s attack.
Croatia: Ivan Perisic, who has been directly involved in 18 goals at major international tournaments since Euro 2012, will be a key player for Croatia.