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[monks data]
Spain national football team
European Championship | Group Stage
Jun 15, 2024 at 5pm UK
Olympiastadion Berlin
Croatia national football team

3 - 0

Morata (29'), Ruiz (32'), Carvajal (45+2')
Rodri (78')
FT(HT: 3-0)

Preview: Spain vs. Croatia - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's European Championship clash between Spain and Croatia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The opening match of what is set to be a fascinating Group B at this summer's European Championship will take place in Berlin on Saturday, with Spain tackling Croatia.

Spain are three-time winners of the European Championship, while they made the semi-finals of Euro 2020, but Croatia have never made it past the quarter-finals of this competition.

Match preview

Spain coach Luis de la Fuente reacts on March 22, 2024© Reuters

England, France, Germany and Portugal are seen as the four favourites to win Euro 2024, with Spain somewhat going under the radar, but this talented squad certainly has the capabilities required to triumph this summer.

La Roja lifted the European Championship trophy in 1964, 2008 and 2012, while they made the semi-finals of Euro 2020, losing to the eventual winners Italy on penalties, and the two teams will again lock horns in Group B at the tournament, while Albania are also present in a very strong section.

There is the possibility of advancing through the group stage with a third-placed finish, and it would be a surprise if all of Spain, Italy and Croatia were not present in the knockout round of the competition considering the quality of each side.

Spain will enter this match in strong form, having won their two June friendlies, beating Andorra 5-0 and Northern Ireland 5-1, while they drew with Brazil at the end of March.

Luis de la Fuente's side will tackle Italy in their second Group B fixture on June 20, before finishing their section against Albania four days later, and every point is likely to be crucial in this group.

Spain have won six of their previous 10 matches against Croatia, including a penalty-shootout success when the two teams last locked horns in the final of the 2022-23 UEFA Nations League.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic reacts on March 23, 2024© Reuters

Croatia's last win over Spain also came in the UEFA Nations League back in November 2018, while these two sides met in the last-16 stage of Euro 2020, with Spain winning 5-3 after extra-time.

Vatreni's recent World Cup record is incredibly impressive, finishing as the runners-up in 2018, before claiming third at the 2022 competition in Qatar.

However, the national side have been knocked out in the round of 16 in their last two European Championship appearances, while their best-ever performance in the competition came in 1996 and 2008, when they reached the quarter-finals.

Croatia will enter this match full of confidence, having been victorious in each of their last six matches in all competitions, including a standout 2-1 victory over Portugal in a friendly last time out.

Zlatko Dalic's side have only lost two of their last 10 matches in all competitions, while they have scored nine times in their last three games.

Kockasti will certainly be aware of the size of the task facing them in this section, but the national team will be expecting to pick up enough points to advance to the next stage, even if that means settling for third.

Spain form (all competitions):

Croatia form (all competitions):

Team News

Spain's Rodri celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 26, 2024© Reuters

There are a number of unknowns in the Spain squad at this moment in time, as head coach De la Fuente has kept his cards close to his chest, while there have been few hints over the XI that will start here.

Spain incredibly used 40 different players during their Euro 2024 qualification campaign, which is the joint-most alongside Italy, and there remain question marks over the manager's preferred side, with the team potentially changing on a game-to-game basis.

Mikel Merino and Dani Olmo are candidates to start for La Roja, but the duo could ultimately be named on the bench, with Fabian Ruiz and Nico Williams featuring from the first whistle.

Aymeric Laporte had been pencilled in for a start, but the experienced defender missed training on Thursday with a muscular issue, so Nacho is in line to feature in the middle, as De la Fuente will not be willing to take any risks when it comes to the Al-Nassr defender.

Lamine Yamal is set to become the youngest player to ever take to the field at a European Championship, with the 16-year-old in line to start on the right for La Roja, and he is expected to be an important player for his country this summer despite his age.

Dani Carvajal will feature, fresh from helping Real Madrid win a La Liga and Champions League double, while the left-back position in the team is expected to be awarded to Alex Grimaldo, with Alejandro Balde a notable absentee from the squad due to a long-term injury.

Alvaro Morata is Spain captain, and the 31-year-old will be bidding to add to his 35 international goals at the competition, with the Atletico Madrid forward set to lead the line.

There are also question marks when it comes to the Croatia XI, but the midfield picks itself, with Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic set to feature in that area of the field.

Lovro Majer has eight goals in 31 caps for his country and is also likely to be included in the starting side, with Andrej Kramaric and Ante Budimir potentially joining him in the final third.

Ivan Perisic is still not at 100% after a serious knee injury, so he is likely to start on the bench, while Marin Pongracic is being tipped to get the nod alongside Josip Sutalo in the middle of the defence.

Josko Gvardiol will come up against Manchester City teammate Rodri, while there will be a spot on the opposite side of the defence for Bayer Leverkusen's Josip Stanisic.

Spain possible starting lineup:
Simon; Carvajal, Le Normand, Nacho, Grimaldo; Ruiz, Rodri, Pedri; Yamal, Morata, Williams

Croatia possible starting lineup:
Livakovic; Stanisic, Sutalo, Pongracic, Gvardiol; Brozovic, Kovacic, Modric; Majer, Budimir, Kramaric

SM words green background

We say: Spain 1-1 Croatia

This is such a tough match to call, and we initially had Spain down as narrow winners before ultimately deciding on a low-scoring draw. Croatia deserve huge respect for their recent World Cup performances, and we believe that Dalic's team will be good enough to claim a point in their section opener with La Roja.

Spain are the favourites to finish at the head of the section, but it is an open group, with Italy the defending champions, while Croatia will also be expecting to advance to the next stage.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic reacts on March 23, 2024
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Group A

Q Germany Germany32107
Q Switzerland Switzerland31205
3 Hungary Hungary31023
4 Scotland flag Scotland30121

Group B

Q Spain Spain33009
Q Italy Italy31114
3 Croatia Croatia30212
4 Albania national flag Albania30121

Group C

Q England flag England31205
Q Denmark Denmark30303
Q Slovenia Slovenia30303
4 Serbia Serbia30212

Group D

Q Austria Austria32016
Q France France31205
Q Netherlands Netherlands31114
4 Poland Poland30121

Group E

Q Romania Romania31114
Q Belgium Belgium31114
Q Slovakia Slovakia31114
4 Ukraine Ukraine31114

Group F

Q Portugal Portugal32016
Q Turkey Turkey32016
Q Georgia Georgia31114
4 Czech Republic Czech Republic30121

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