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Sam Marsden’s Croatia v Spain preview: Spain too strong for Croatia?

| 27.06.2021
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Our Matchday Squad journalist will be covering Spain throughout Euro 2020

Luis Enrique warned the cava would flow once the cork was popped and that was true for Spain as they progressed to the last 16 of Euro 2020 with a vintage performance against a flat Slovakia side.

After two draws and just one goal in their first two games, an early exit appeared a possibility if they couldn’t get their act together. Dutch great Rafael van der Vaart called them “horrible,” provoking outrage in the Spain camp. But they made a mockery of their critics as they blitzed Slovakia for five in the Seville sun to set up a showdown with Croatia.

The return of Sergio Busquets, side-lined in their first two games after testing positive for coronavirus, proved key. The captain adds balance and his relationship with Barcelona teammates Jordi Alba and Pedri brings stability to the side.

Eric Garcia, Cesar Azpilicueta and Pablo Sarabia also came into the team to good effect and coach Luis Enrique will be tempted to stick with the same setup in Copenhagen on Monday.

However, as strange as it sounds after hitting five, Spain’s goal-scoring problems may still cost them in the tournament. The much-maligned Alvaro Morata missed a penalty while it was still goalless and two of the goals they scored were own goals. Slovakia also crumbled once the second went in.

With the cava popped, though, a re-energised Spain should have too much for Croatia, with a likely quarter-final against favourites France the prize for the winner.

Check out the latest Euro 2020 odds.

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Author

Sam Marsden

Samuel Marsden is a sports journalist who covers Spanish football for ESPN and the Catalan newspaper Diario SPORT.

He has been based in Barcelona for eight years but regularly travels to Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla and all across Spain to cover La Liga, the Champions League and the Spanish national team.

He primarily focuses on Barca and has interviewed Javier Mascherano, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Luis Suarez and Frenkie de Jong, among others, in recent seasons.

Prior to his current work, he freelanced for the Daily Mirror, Goal, Bleacher Report and the BBC.

Sam is originally from Cornwall, England, but is a Burnley fan, for which he blames his dad.