Euro 2020: Spain face toughest task yet as Modric’s Croatia wait in round of 16 | Football news


Ahead of Spain face Slovakia in their final Euro 2020 group stage game, manager Luis Enrique said his side were just one step away from taking it up a notch. . His pupils heard it and did just that, beating Slovakia 5-1 to enter the knockout stages in a demanding fashion. Next stop: Luka Modric’s Croatia.

La Roja will face their most difficult task yet as Croatia also entered the knockout stage with a handsome 3-1 against Scotland.

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“In all the sports they play, the Croatians are always very competitive, they have a heart of a lion and give everything for their country,” said Spain striker Dani Olmo, who spent five years at the first Croatian club. , Dinamo Zagreb.

“They really enjoy every goal they achieve. They have proven themselves in this Euros and in other tournaments, they thrive in tough situations. There is no favorite in this game, this is the game. from anyone. “

The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner is Croatia’s talisman and arguably the most talented player in Monday’s game.

The Spanish players know Modric all too well after nine magical seasons with Real Madrid, although they cannot count on any inside information about the midfielder as Luis Enrique has decided not to include any Real player in his team.

“He is their driving force, the heart of Croatia that leads their orchestra. Their whole playing goes through his feet,” Olmo added. “But Croatia is not just Modric.”

Olmo also said that unlike Sweden, Poland and Slovakia, Croatia is likely to come out and attack Spain and not just defend, which could work in their favor after struggling in their first two group matches.

They are expected to benefit from a smoother pitch at Copenhagen’s Parken stadium after complaining about Sevilla’s La Cartuja surface. Being away from a sometimes impatient crowd might also help.

Spain were beaten 2-1 by Croatia in the Euro 2016 group stage, then hammered them 6-0 in the UEFA Nations League in 2018, to lose 3-2 away two months later.

The 2018 World Cup finalist will be deprived of center-back Dejan Lovren due to suspension, and Duje Caleta-Car is expected to take his place.

Caleta-Car said Croatia need to improve defensively after conceding in each of their three group matches.

“We gave goals smoothly because we weren’t compact enough. Against Spain we have to stay tight in the middle and at the back in order to close them,” he told reporters on Saturday.

Midfielder Mateo Kovacic added: “They know we’re a good team too so it should be a great game. Spain have phenomenal midfielders but we can match them in every department. We have to bring the game to them. “

(with contributions from Reuters)

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