Croatia and Spain have served up plenty of dramatic encounters over the years and now face off for the first time in a tournament knockout encounter as they meet at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen in the round of 16 at UEFA EURO 2020.
• Both sides progressed to the knockout stage with impressive Matchday 3 successes, Croatia claiming second place in Group D with a 3-1 defeat of Scotland in Glasgow while Spain equalled the record margin of victory in a EURO finals with a 5-0 win against Slovakia in Seville.
• The winners of this tie will play France or Switzerland in the first quarter-final in Saint Petersburg on 2 July.
• Croatia’s record in eight matches against Spain is W3 D1 L4. They were without a win in four meetings before UEFA EURO 2016, where goals from Nikola Kalinić (45) and Ivan Perišić (87) overturned Álvaro Morata’s seventh-minute opener and ensured Croatia finished above Spain in the final group table.
• The winless run that preceded Croatia’s victory in Bordeaux also included a 1-0 Spain victory in Gdańsk at UEFA EURO 2012, Jesús Navas scoring the only goal two minutes from time. That means UEFA EURO 2020 is the third consecutive EURO finals in which the teams have faced each other.
• Croatia suffered their heaviest ever defeat on 11 September 2018, going down 6-0 to Spain in the UEFA Nations League. Saúl Ñíguez (24) Marco Asensio (33), a Lovre Kalinić own goal (35), Rodrigo (49), Sergio Ramos (57) and Isco (70) were all on the scoresheet for Spain at Elche’s Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero.
• Croatia turned the tables with a 3-2 success at Zagreb’s Stadion Maksimir on 15 November 2018. Andrej Kramarić’s 54th-minute opener was cancelled out by Dani Ceballos two minutes later; Tin Jedvaj restored the Croatia lead in the 69th minute, Ramos replying from the spot in the 78th before Jedvaj got the winner three minutes into added time.
• Robert Prosinečki and Davor Šuker struck in a 2-0 friendly triumph in Valencia in March 1994 – Croatia’s first away victory since independence. All of the sides’ first four fixtures were friendlies; the last four have all been competitive games.
EURO facts: Croatia
• This is Croatia’s sixth EURO; they have missed out just once since independence, at UEFA EURO 2000, meaning this is their fifth successive finals. They have twice reached the last eight and twice bowed out at the group stage.
• Croatia’s UEFA EURO 2016 campaign was ended in the round of 16 by eventual champions Portugal, who were 1-0 winners after extra time. A team coached by Ante Čačić had finished first in their section on seven points, ahead of defending champions Spain.
• Zlatko Dalić’s side were Group E winners in qualifying for UEFA EURO 2020, picking up 17 points from their eight matches to finish three ahead of Wales.
• Croatia were beaten 1-0 by England at Wembley in their opening UEFA EURO 2020 fixture but then took four points from their two games at Hampden Park in Glasgow to progress in second place behind their conquerors, drawing 1-1 with the Czech Republic before beating Scotland.
• Having been eliminated by Portugal after extra time four years ago, the Matchday 1 defeat by England is only Croatia’s second loss over 90 minutes in 17 EURO matches (W10 D5).
• Croatia have played only two previous matches at Parken, both against Denmark – a 3-1 FIFA World Cup qualifying loss in September 1997 and a 2-1 friendly victory in June 2004. Those are Croatia’s only previous games in Denmark.
EURO facts: Spain
• This is Spain’s seventh consecutive EURO. Champions in 1964, they were also victorious in 2008 and 2012 to become the first side to retain the Henri Delaunay trophy.
• Spain’s defence of the trophy was ended by Italy in the round of 16 at UEFA EURO 2016, the Azzurri running out 2-0 winners.
• The 2-1 loss to Croatia on Matchday 3 at UEFA EURO 2016 – a result that meant Vicente del Bosque’s side finished second behind their opponents in Group D – ended Spain’s sequence of 14 EURO finals matches without defeat (W11 D3), stretching back to a 1-0 reversal against Portugal at UEFA EURO 2004; prior to Croatia, they had not conceded in seven EURO finals fixtures, since a 1-1 draw with Italy in 2012.
• Spain and Germany/West Germany are the most successful EURO teams having won three editions each.
• Spain qualified for UEFA EURO 2020 by winning eight and drawing two of their ten qualifiers to finish on 26 points in Group F, five above second-placed Sweden – with whom they drew 0-0 in Group E on Matchday 1.
• The three-time champions are one of five sides who did not lose a game in the UEFA EURO 2020 preliminaries, along with Belgium, Italy – who both won all their fixtures, and also recorded three victories in the group stage – Denmark and Ukraine.
• Spain had more shots (227), possession (70%) and completed a greater percentage of their passes (91%) than any other team in qualifying.
• Luis Enrique’s side played all three Group E games at the Estadio La Cartuja in Seville, opening with that goalless draw against eventual section winners Sweden before being held 1-1 by Poland. They found their scoring touch in the third game, however, overwhelming Slovakia 5-0 – the first time Spain had scored five goals in a EURO finals game and the joint biggest margin of victory overall at a UEFA European Championship.
• This is Spain’s fourth game at Parken Stadium, where their record is W1 D1 L1, all against Denmark. Their most recent trip brought a 3-0 friendly win in August 2008, Xabi Alonso scoring twice and Xavi Hernández once for the just-crowned European champions.
• Spain’s record in Copenhagen overall is W2 D2 L1; their only other visit to Denmark was a 3-1 success in Aarhus in UEFA EURO 2008 qualifying.
Links and trivia
• Spain’s Dani Olmo was at Dinamo Zagreb between 2014 and January 2020, when he signed for Leipzig. Olmo’s Dinamo team-mates included Dominik Livaković (2016–20), Mislav Oršić and Bruno Petković (2018–20), Joško Gvardiol and Luka Ivanušec (2019/20).
• Have played in Spain:
Luka Modrić (Real Madrid 2012–)
Šime Vrsaljko (Atlético de Madrid 2016–)
Ante Budimir (Mallorca 2019–20, Osasuna 2020–)
Mateo Kovačić (Real Madrid 2015–18)
Mario Pašalić (Elche 2014/15 loan)
• Modrić has won four UEFA Champions League titles, three UEFA Super Cups, two Liga titles, the 2013/14 Copa del Rey and three FIFA Club World Cups with Real Madrid.
• Vrsaljko made nine appearances in Atlético’s victorious 2021/21 Liga campaign.
• Have played together:
Luka Modrić & Diego Llorente (Real Madrid 2012–15)
Luka Modrić & Marcos Llorente (Real Madrid 2014–19)
Luka Modrić & Álvaro Morata (Real Madrid 2012–14, 2016/17)
Šime Vrsaljko & Koke (Atlético de Madrid 2016–)
Šime Vrsaljko & Marcos Llorente (Atlético de Madrid 2019–)
Šime Vrsaljko & Rodri (Atlético de Madrid 2018/19)
Šime Vrsaljko & Álvaro Morata (Atlético de Madrid 2019–20)
Mateo Kovačić & César Azpilicueta (Chelsea 2018–)
Mateo Kovačić & Álvaro Morata (Chelsea 2018/19)
Ivan Perišić & Thiago Alcántara (Bayern München 2019/20)
• Gerard Moreno scored the winning goals in both legs of Villarreal’s UEFA Europa League quarter-final against Dinamo Zagreb in April (1-0 a, 2-1 h).
• Ivanušec’s added-time penalty forced extra time in Croatia’s UEFA Under-21 European Championship quarter-final against Spain on 31 May, although his side ultimately lost 2-1.
• Duje Ćaleta-Car scored in Croatia’s 3-0 European U21 Championship qualifying win away to Spain in March 2016, Pašalić having found the net in a 3-2 U21 qualifying defeat against the same opponents the previous November.
• Ferran Torres scored Manchester City’s opening goal in a 3-0 away win against Ćaleta-Car’s Marseille on Matchday 2 of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League.
• Croatia’s record in competitive penalty shoot-outs is W2 L1:
1-3 v Turkey, UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-final
3-2 v Denmark, 2018 FIFA World Cup round of 16
4-3 v Russia, 2018 FIFA World Cup quarter-final
• Spain’s record in their nine competitive penalty shoot-outs is W5 L4:
5-4 v Denmark, 1984 UEFA European Championship semi-final
4-5 v Belgium, 1986 FIFA World Cup quarter-final
2-4 v England, EURO ’96 quarter-final
3-2 v Republic of Ireland, 2002 FIFA World Cup round of 16
3-5 v South Korea, 2002 FIFA World Cup quarter-final
4-2 v Italy, UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-final
4-2 v Portugal, UEFA EURO 2012 semi-final
7-6 v Italy, 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final
3-4 v Russia, 2018 FIFA World Cup round of 16
• Croatia’s win against Scotland was their first in five matches and one of just five in 16 games over the past nine months, eight of which have been lost, the most recent against England on Matchday 1 – their first defeat in an opening game at a EURO final tournament. Their two pre-UEFA EURO 2020 friendlies brought a 1-1 draw at home to Armenia on 1 June and a 0-1 away loss to Belgium five days later.
• Ivan Perišić has scored in each of Croatia’s last two matches, lifting his total in major tournaments to nine, the 32-year-old having previously scored twice at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, twice at UEFA EURO 2016 and three times at the 2018 World Cup. His equaliser against the Czech Republic enabled him to become the first Croatian player to score at four tournaments, and his header against Scotland made him his country’s all-time top marksman at the EURO finals with four goals.
• Perišić also scored Croatia’s goal against Armenia to mark his 100th international appearance. He became the ninth Croatian player to reach the century, a list headed by current captain Luka Modrić.
• Modrić’s goal against Scotland, which came in his 100th competitive international, was his 18th for his country, his fifth in tournament football and third at the EURO finals, the Croatia skipper having previously scored in 1-0 wins against Austria in 2008 and Turkey in 2016.
• Nikola Vlašić’s opening strike against Scotland came on his first tournament start and was his sixth in 25 appearances for Croatia but first in ten internationals.
• Joško Gvardiol made his senior international debut as a half-time substitute against Belgium and started all three UEFA EURO 2020 group games. He was one of three squad members – together with Luka Ivanušec and Domagoj Bradarić – who played in Croatia’s 2-1 defeat by Spain in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship quarter-final on 31 May.
• There are reigning domestic league champions in Zlatko Dalić’s UEFA EURO 2020 squad from no fewer than eight European countries. In addition to five players from 2020/21 Croatian double winners Dinamo Zagreb – Gvardiol, Ivanušec, Dominik Livaković, Mislav Oršić and Bruno Petković – the Croatia coach has at his disposal the following newly-crowned title winners: Šime Vrsaljko (Atlético de Madrid, Spain), Perišić and Marcelo Brozović (Internazionale, Italy), Bradarić (LOSC Lille, France), Borna Barišić (Rangers, Scotland), Dejan Lovren (Zenit, Russia), Josip Juranović (Legia Warszawa, Poland) and Domagoj Vida from Turkish double winners Beşiktaş.
• Furthermore, there is a current UEFA Champions League winner in the squad – Chelsea’s Mateo Kovačić.
• Croatia’s squad also has considerable major tournament pedigree, with 13 survivors from the squad that Dalić led to the 2018 World Cup final, nine of whom had also been on duty at UEFA EURO 2016 – Brozović, Kovačić, Modrić, Perišić, Vida, Vrsaljko, Milan Badelj, Andrej Kramarić and Lovre Kalinić.
• Modrić is appearing at his fourth successive EURO, Badelj, Perišić, Vida and Vrsaljko at their third. The Croatia captain has already moved ahead of Darijo Srna at the top of the country’s all-time EURO appearance charts in this competition, reaching his half-century against Scotland, and needs one more outing at UEFA EURO 2020 to surpass Srna with a national record 13 for the final tournament.
• Spain’s 5-0 win against Slovakia on Matchday 3 was their biggest at the EURO finals, surpassing the two 4-0 victories they managed at UEFA EURO 2012 – against the Republic of Ireland in the group stage and Italy in the final.
• Aymeric Laporte’s goal against Slovakia was his first for Spain, on his fourth appearance, with Pablo Sarabia later scoring his second in his seventh international,. Ferran Torres made it seven in 14 outings for Spain with his first touch 44 seconds after coming on to the field as a substitute – the fastest goal scored at the EURO finals by a substitute since fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Valerón (39 seconds) against Russia at UEFA EURO 2004.
• The Matchday 2 draw against Poland was the third in succession for Spain under Luis Enrique’s charge following a stalemate against Portugal in Madrid on 4 June, in which newly naturalised defender Laporte made his debut, and the goalless encounter with Sweden on Matchday 1. Illness in the Spain camp meant that a second scheduled friendly, against Lithuania in Leganés, was played – and won 4-0 – by Spain’s Under-21 side, with Luis de la Fuente as coach.
• Unbeaten in the group stage, Spain have now lost just one of their last 27 internationals – 0-1 away to Ukraine in a UEFA Nations League encounter last November – and are unbeaten in 11 games since (W5 D6). Despite that defeat in Kyiv they have qualified for the 2021 UEFA Nations League finals and will face hosts Italy in the first of the semi-finals in Milan on 6 October.
• Enrique opted to select only 24 players, rather than the permitted 26, for his UEFA EURO 2020 squad. There are no Real Madrid players in the party, with regular captain Sergio Ramos, who started nine of the ten qualifiers and scored four goals, missing from a Spain tournament squad for the first time since he made his international debut in 2005.
• In Ramos’s absence, Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets has taken over the captaincy. The 123-cap midfielder – named Star of the Match against Slovakia, his first appearance of the tournament after illness – is one of only three players in the squad who came into UEFA EURO 2020 with 50 or more caps, the others being Jordi Alba – the stand-in skipper against Sweden and Poland, now on 75 appearances – and Koke, who reached his half-century against Portugal.
• Aside from Busquets and Alba, both veterans of the 2012 and 2016 EUROs as well as multiple FIFA World Cups, only five other players in this squad have previous tournament experience – David de Gea, César Azpilicueta, Koke, Thiago Alcántara and Álvaro Morata, all of whom played five years ago in France.
• Morata, with three goals scored at UEFA EURO 2016 and one so far at this tournament, was the only player in Enrique’s squad other than Alba – on target in the 2012 final win against Italy – to have found the net at a major finals until Laporte, Sarabia and Ferran Torres all broke their duck against Slovakia. Morata, who had a penalty saved in the same game – the fifth in a row that Spain have missed – is the only member of the squad with an international goal tally in double figures (20).
• Only one of the 17 major tournament debutants in the squad has over 20 international caps to his name – Rodri, with 22 – and one of them, goalkeeper Robert Sánchez, has yet to make his debut.
• Two of those number – Pau Torres and Gerard Moreno – were UEFA Europa League winners with Villarreal in 2020/21, beating De Gea’s Manchester United on penalties in the final, while Spanish champions Atlético de Madrid are also represented in the squad by two players – Koke and Marcos Llorente. English Premier League winners Manchester City have more players included, four, than any other club – Ferran Torres, Eric García, Rodri and Laporte – while there are three from Copa del Rey winners Barcelona, teenager Pedri joining his two 32-year-old club colleagues Busquets and Alba.
• Domestic cups were also won in 2020/21 by Morata in Italy (Juventus) and Sarabia in France (Paris Saint-Germain), while Azpilicueta lifted the most prestigious club trophy of them all as he captained Chelsea to victory in the UEFA Champions League.
• Gerard Moreno was the joint top scorer in the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League with seven goals and also notched 23 for Villarreal in the Spanish Liga, a figure bettered only by Lionel Messi, with 30 for Barcelona. He missed a penalty against Poland.
• Pedri became the youngest Spanish player to appear in a EURO final tournament match when he started the game against Sweden aged 18 years and 201 days.