06/27/2021 at 8:00 AM CEST
Jordi Gil – Madrid (Special Envoy)
Croatia and Spain have generated a modern rivalry in the wake of their recent clashes. Their most dramatic matches have been in the last two European Cups and this Monday they are measured for the third time in a row in the continental team tournament with something as relevant at stake as the passage to the quarterfinals.
Both teams have reasons to want to settle accounts, although the Spanish victory in a European Championship is more distant. It was in 2012 in Gdansk (Poland) in the duel that closed the league and it also gave way to the quarterfinals since it was the last edition in which there was no intermediate step through the eighth.
Spain, Italy and Croatia fought for the two seats that gave the ticket. The Red half to the Croats and Italy faced Ireland. Interestingly, with a draw between the Spanish and the Croats at two goals or more, both teams passed. In Italy they feared a ‘biscotto’ that was not produced.The selection was classified with a victory or a tie, while Croatia had to win or draw more than one goal. For its part, Italy had to beat Ireland. Something that he did without problems (2-0). The meeting between Spain and Croatia was much more dramatic. Casillas miraculously avoided the 0-1 with a stretch to a point-blank shot from Rakitic and the goal that allowed Del Bosque’s men to breathe came in the 88th minute in a brilliant combination between Cesc and Iniesta culminated on an empty goal by Jesús Navas (1-0).
The mazazo of Bordeaux
Four years later Croatia returned the coin. Both teams fought on the last day of the group for the first place. A vital position since the leadership was the conduit towards a much more placid part of the table a priori. Spain saw how Croatia traced the initial goal of Morata and Perisic in 87 nailed the lace (1-2)Shortly before, Sergio Ramos had missed a penalty.
The defeat was a brutal emotional blow. Spain met Italy in the round of 16 with a taste of defeat a priori that was confirmed in the match played at the Stade de France (2-0). In case of passing, the next rivals before the final would have been Germany and France.
Instead, Croatia when winning had the bone of Portugal to later cross with Poland and Welsh in a much more accessible way. However, the Balkans fell to the Portuguese in eighths, who did take advantage of this route to reach the decisive match and take Euro 2016.
Monday’s match in Copenhagen It is again a head or tail, which will lead the winner to play the quarterfinals on Friday July 2 in Saint Petersburg against the winner of France-Switzerland and the defeated will go home.
The final of the Maksimir
As fate would have it, Spain and Croatia had two new official clashes in 2018. The goal in this case was to get to the first UEFANations Leagu ‘Final Four’and. They were part of a group of three teams that England completed and only the first classified reached the final four.
Spain thrashed the recent World runner-up in Elche by a resounding 6-0. The Spanish triumph also on the opening day at Wembley in Luis Enrique’s debut as coach (1-2) augured a quick classification. However, everything went wrong with defeat against England at Villamarín (2-3) that forced Spain to win at the Maksimir stadium in Zagreb to directly access the ‘Final Four’. If they did not win, they could only qualify with a draw in the last match in England-Croatia.
La Roja succumbed 3-2 with a goal in the last breath and there was no final miracle as England beat Croatia and qualified for the ‘Final Four’ that Portugal would finally take home.
The story between Croatia and Spain will continue at the Parken in Copenhagen between two teams that have already proven capable of the best and also the worst.