EURO 2024: Spain Shocks Croatia 3-0 to Open Group B

Daniela Rogulj

Updated on:

June 15, 2024 – Not the start to EURO 2024 Croatia had hoped for, as Spain shocked the Vatreni 3-0 in the opening match of Group B in Berlin.

Croatia and Spain met in the Group B opener on Saturday at Olympiastadion in Berlin. Around 100,000 fans were expected in Berlin, of which 50,000 were at the stadium. 68,844 fan were at the stadium in total today.

It was hard to notice any Spain fans at all with the loud cheers from our fans decked out in red and white. One thing was certain – Croatia had taken over Berlin. And they wanted revenge on Spain after the Nations League final a year ago.


Spain: Unai Simon, Carvajal, Nacho, Le Normand, Cucurella, Rodri, Pedri, Fabian Ruiz, Lamine Yamal, Nico Williams, Morata

Croatia: Livaković, Pongračić, Šutalo, Gvardiol, Stanišić, Kovačić, Brozović, Modrić, Brozović, Kovačić, Majer, Kramarić, Budimir

Match report

Spain was dangerous in the first 10 minutes of the match, holding possession just as expected. Livaković was forced to make a few saves, and our defense found a way out of any dangerous attack.

Croatia was playing nervously and struggled to find a rhythm. A Spain free kick 30 meters out in the 10th minute was luckily played out for a goal kick.

Croatia started moving up the pitch in the 13th minute and connected a string of good passes. In the 16th minute, a free kick was granted for Croatia on the right side about 10 meters outside the box. Majer and Modrić tried to fake and it was blocked by the Spain defense.

And then Croatia looked like the team we know. They controlled the ball and played quick one-twos. Stanisic had a great ball into Budimir who headed wide of the goal in the 21st minute.

In the 28th minute, Spain had a quick breakaway. Croatia’s center backs were caught too high, and Alvaro Morata broke through to score for the 1-0 Spain lead.

In the next minute, Kovačić broke through Spain’s midfield but weakly shot at the keeper.

And then another rude awakening – Croatia’s defense was threatened by Spain again, and Ruiz made it 2-0 in the 32nd minute.

A great chance for Croatia in the 41st when Majer crossed into the box, Gvardiol shot far post, and Budimir just missed tapping it in. It was the best chance for Croatia yet.

Kramarić took his chance at a shot in the 45th minute, but it went over the goal. Kovačić tried the same in during injury time, shooting way right of the goal. And then Spain shocked Croatia again in the final seconds of the first half – a cross into the box and awful defending in the penalty area and it was 3-0 thanks to Carvajal.

Dalić needed to figure out a new game plan fast.

There were no changes to start the second half.

Croatia looked better at the start of the second half and began pressing Spain’s defense. During on counter attack Livaković made a stellar save to keep it 3-0. And then Spain was dangerous again.

Croatia had a brilliant chance to get a goal in the 55th minute. Gvardiol played the ball in from the left, Kova took it to the goal line and played it back to Budimir who played it off to Stanisic. He shot, the ball found Kramaric’s head and the Spain defense brilliantly defended.

Ivan Perisic was subbed on for Ante Budimir in the 56th minute.

Croatia was holding possession for a better part of the second half so far. Modric and Kovacic were subbed off for Pasalic and Sucic, ensuring fresh legs and young blood.

In the 72nd minute, Petkovic came on for Kramaric.

Perisic launched the ball into the box from the left in the 76th minute but it was an easy save for the keeper.

And then somewhat of a saving grace came for Croatia in the 77th minute. Rodrigo clipped the back of Majer’s heel in the box and a penalty was called. Petkovic stepped up to take it and missed, but Perisic sent it back in and Petkovic scored for 3-1. However, VAR called it back and gave an indirect free kick to Spain. The scoreline remained 3-0. Even one goal could have been crucial for Croatia.

A corner for Spain in the 87th minute was luckily not dangerous, and it seemed as though Croatia fans were counting down the seconds until the ref blew the final whistle. And then a roar of support for Croatia came from the stands as they sang “Volim te Hrvatskaaaa”.

Five minutes of stoppage time were added, and the game ended 3-0 for Spain.

On the bright side? The best 3rd-placed teams get out of the group as well, but this was not how Croatia wanted to begin the tournament. How will Dalic change his game plan against Albania and keep morale high after this blow? There are two games to go in the group, and definitely still hope if Croatia wins the next two.

Remember when Argentina lost the opening game of the 2022 World Cup and went on to win it?

“We were too far from the ball and not aggressive enough. That was our biggest problem. We knew they were going to press, but we created some mistakes. We wanted to play fewer passes and it didn’t work,” said Dalić after the match.

“I think this was just a bad day. We won’t put Gvardiol back at center back straight away. I took Modric and Kovacic out when I did because we have two tough games ahead. We know what awaits us. We know how bad we were, and we need to change that.”

And a message to Croatia fans:

“I am sorry for the Croatia fans that came out today. My message to them is that I am sorry.”

Croatia and Albania meet next in Hamburg on Wednesday at 15:00.


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