Croatia met host England on Sunday in front of 22,500 fans – 22,000 of which were for England. Croatia was not only up against England’s home-pitch advantage, but because of the strict COVID-19 measures still in place in the, only Croatia fans already inside of the UK were able to make it to the game. While there weren’t many, they certainly stood out in their red and white checks at Wembley Stadium.
While Croatia’s first 15 minutes of play were shaky, with England hitting the far post already in the first few minutes of the match, they found their footing after the 20th minute and moved up with pitch with attacking plays, but were still plagued with the same issue as always – scoring.
Otherwise, the match between England and Croatia was incredibly even, which you can see displayed in the statistics below.
But is Croatia’s loss to England so bad, after all? When talking about the group stage and crossover in the round of 16 – not at all.
Since UEFA implemented the current competition format at the 2016 European Championships, in which 16 of the 24 national teams participating advance to the second round, four points are enough for the knockout phase, and maybe even three. In simpler terms, this means a single victory.
Two national teams advance to the round of 16 from each of the six groups, followed by the top four third-place teams.
Losing at Wembley is really not such a bad thing, because the team that finishes first in Group D will crossover with the ‘group of death,’ playing the second-place team of Group F, which includes France, Portugal, Germany, and Hungary.
This draw is far more difficult than getting second place in Group D, which crosses over with the second-placed team from Group E (Spain, Poland, Sweden, Slovakia) in the round of 16. If Croatia finishes third, they will play the winner of Group B (likely Belgium), the winner of Group E (likely Spain), or the winner of Group C (Netherlands). Thus, winning four to six points in the two remaining games will cement the second-place spot.
Croatia will play next on Friday, June 18, against the Czech Republic in Glasgow.
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