EURO 2016: Croatia – Spain duel between La Liga Stars

Club allegiances will have to be put to one side for the time being as Spain and Croatia lock horns at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux on Tuesday.

croacia-espana

Ivan Rakitic will face a number of his Barcelona colleagues, whilst Sergio Ramos will have to deal with Real Madrid teammate Mateo Kovacic, in the absence of Los Blancos star Luka Modric. hi-res-9d5dcf62e239fe9b3e61c1323bf53396_crop_exact

The winner of this game will seal top spot in Group D and an easier draw in knockout stage, although a point would also be enough for both teams to qualify, with Spain in this case finishing on top.

However, Croatia will be wary of dropping into third-place, and possibly out of Euro 2016 altogether, if they lose and Czech Republic beat Turkey in the parallel group game.

Injuries and Suspensions

The bad news for Croatia is that a groin injury sustained during their 2-2 draw with Czech Republic looks likely to keep Modric sidelined, with Ante Cacic set to turn to fellow Real man Kovacic to fill in the gap in midfield.

Spain on the other hand will be delighted to have a clean bill of health going into this game.

History

Croatia’s 2-0 victory over Spain in March 1994 was their first ever away victory post-independence, but unfortunately it remains the one and only time they have beaten them._90015060_spaincro

They were only able to manage a draw and two losses in subsequent friendly games before they faced each other for the first time competitively in the group stages of Euro 2012.

On that occasion, an 88th minute Jesus Navas goal gave Spain a 1-0 victory and saw them advance to the knockout stage of the competition at their opponent’s expense.

Player to Watch: Alvaro Morata

Having picked up two goals during Spain’s 3-0 win over Turkey, the Juventus frontman enters this game on a high and determined to secure his place as his country’s number one striker.

NICE, FRANCE - JUNE 17:  Alvaro Morata of Spain celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group D match between Spain and Turkey at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 17, 2016 in Nice, France.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

At 23-years-of-age, Euro 2016 represents the perfect opportunity for the former Real Madrid youngster to make the step up from promising starlet to being one of Europe’s premier forwards.

With his future very much up in the air, Morata will be desperate to demonstrate his ability on the big stage ahead of a crucial transfer window.

Probable Line-Ups

Croatia: Subasic; Srna, Corluka, Vida, Strinic; Badelj, Kovacic; Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic; Mandzukic

Spain: De Gea; Juanfran, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Fabregas, Busquets, Iniesta; Silva, Morata, Nolito.

Leave a Reply