Euro 2024: Spain opens campaign with statement 3-0 win over Croatia

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Spain vs. Croatia match analysis: With a decisive 3-0 victory over Croatia, Spain began its Euro 2024 campaign with three crucial points in the competition’s “Group of Death”.

La Roja made up for a slow start by moving quickly out of the blocks. Álvaro Morata, Fabián Ruiz, and Dani Carvajal, who had just scored in the Champions League final, set up a commanding advantage in the first half that the Kockasti never considered overcoming.

Group B includes Spain, Croatia, and Italy, the reigning champions. All three are in the top 10 of FIFA’s world rankings. Additionally, Albania is a surprise contender, having won its qualifying group before Czechia and Poland.

A highly skilled Croatian team that has recently performed well at international competitions—making it to the final and semifinal of two World Cups in a row—had an unusually careless start.

Despite having 372 caps between them, Mateo Kovačić, Marcelo Brozović, and Luka Modrić were mainly ineffectual in the midfield during the whole game.

Just before the half-hour, Morata scored the game’s first goal after Ruiz’s pass to him, quickly taking advantage of the Croatian defense and slotting the ball beyond Dominik Livaković.

Spain vs. Croatia
Spain vs. Croatia (Carvajal slides in to give Spain a 3-0 lead. 
Fabian Bimmer/Reuters)

That strike moved the 31-year-old up to joint-third on the all-time scoring list at European Championships with seven goals, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Michel Platini.

Three minutes later, Ruiz scored again, this time by dribbling the ball low into the bottom corner after two clumsy challenges from Modrić and Brozović on the edge of the box.

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At the end of the half, Carvajal scored a third goal, timing his move precisely to enter the six-yard box and finish Lamine Yamal’s precise cross past Livaković.

Both teams had numerous opportunities in the second half to increase the score. Still, they were foiled by subpar finishing and a spectacular save from Livaković that kept Barcelona’s teenage player Yamal from shattering the record.

It was the culmination of a terrible afternoon for Croatia. If they can make it to the next round, they must significantly improve when they play Albania and Italy.

Credit: CNN