Riding high on a 14 game unbeaten stretch in the European Championship - 11 of those wins - Spain would look to add to that total which includes their 690 minute streak without conceding a goal.
They would be facing a Croatian team without their engine in the form of Luka Modric. He picked up a knock in the match vs the Czech Republic and would not start nor be available as a substitute.
Vicente del Bosque would run out the same 11 and 4-3-3 that he had in the first two group matches.
This would not be Spain’s night.
They came out, held onto the ball and dictated the pace. In the 7th minute, Álvaro Morata would get on the end of a Cesc Fàbregas pass to put them up 1-0. The build up would be led by David Sliva, with one hell of a pass.
Incredible reverse pass from David Silva for that Morata goal. (Via @OffsideLiam ) pic.twitter.com/ojowokzIpn #CROESP— BetBright (@BetBright) June 21, 2016
Croatia for their credit didn’t curl up into the fetal position and call it a day. They were getting close to cracking the code on the Spanish defense, who looked pretty gassed. Croatia was coming for them, from a lot of different angles.
Spain would have a chance to go ahead with a pass into the box for a waiting Morata, but his horrible first touch would roll right to the keeper and see their chance extinguished. Croatia would crack the defense in the 45th minute, bringing it back level, the ball getting past keeper David De Gea. That would end the minutes streak at 732 minutes without conceding.
And that’s how it would go into the half, tied at one a piece.
Team Heat Maps
As you can see Croatia didn’t spend a lot of time in the attacking end, but when they did they made it count. With it level I figured it would be a good time to run my mouth on twitter.
I fully expect #CRO to bunker. #ESPCRO #EURO2016— Timm (@TimmHiggins) June 21, 2016
As per-usual, I was horribly wrong.
After the re-start Spain would come out and again would dictate the pace of the match. This time a more slow and methodical approach. In the 72nd minute David Silva was brought down in the box and it looked like Spain could put themselves back in the lead.
Sergio Ramos would square up and take the penalty kick. Just beforehand, one of the Croatian players whispered into the keepers ear. Apparently, Luka Modric (on the bench) dropped a dime on his club teammate. Ramos tried to go hard right and low - but it was saved and the score remained tied.
I’ll just put this here.
Real Madrid players are 0/2 on penalties in Euro 2016. But 100% on penalties to win the Champions League final.— Gabe Lezra (@GabeLezra) June 21, 2016
It would all come crashing down for Spain in the 88th minute as Ivan Perisic beat two defenders and slotted the ball past a sliding Pique who got a toe on it., this would catch De Gea slightly out of position as he was coming out to break down the angle.
That's how the match would end - Croatia 2, Spain 1.
I caught him ball watching a few times, thus getting late jumps on runs. But he puts himself where he needs to be, as evidenced in his goal posted above. This was Morata’s third consecutive start and at times looked a bit gassed. Of the three this could be rated as his worst start in the Euros.
Morata for the most part tended to drift out wide left, but like to cut back into the top of the box trying to slip past the Croatian defense. He rarely, if ever tracked backed to help on defense.
He had 29 touches, 23 of them were in the first half.
His passing was, well - just look.
If you don’t feel like doing the math, that’s a cool 68%. The second half he would be pretty much absent. He was subbed off in the 66th minute.
Player Rating: 6.5
What can you say? Spain’s entire defense was suspect - and Ramos missing the PK was pretty much the cherry on top of the crap sundae that was Spain’s night.
With Spain running a high line, Ramos spent a lot of his time in Croatia’s end of the field. It seemed that Spain was trying to work the left side of the pitch, from the outset.
The passing map lines up with what his heat map is telling us. They were working everything to that left wing. His passing for the night hovered right near the 90% mark. It was his marking that lead to problems, including two failed clearances. It was clear he was playing a little more conservative match most of the night. Ramos was already sitting on a yellow, meaning another and he’d have to sit out the next match.
Player Rating: 6.0
He came on in the 87th minute and had one touch.
Player Rating: N/A
Things I learned
Alvaro Morata became the fifth player to score 2+ goals in a EURO game for Spain, following Alfonso Perez, David Villa (hat-trick vs Russia), Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso.
are were unbeaten in 14 games at the Euro’s with 11 wins.
Spain hadn’t conceded a goal in 723 minutes. That fell tonight.
Spain have scored in each of their last eight group games at the EURO, last failing to find the net in 2004, in a 1-0 defeat to Portugal.
Croatia have reached the knockout stages of the EuropeanChampionships in 50% of their previous participations (2/4): in 1996 and 2008.