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Spain vs Croatia: Three key battles that could decide Euro 2024 clash

Published at :June 14, 2024 at 9:34 PM
Modified at :June 14, 2024 at 9:34 PM
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Ajay Gandhar

La Roja are the three-time Euro champions.

The Euro 2024 tournament’s Group B opener in Germany will see Spain vs Croatia. Three-time European champions Spain will take on Croatia, a team that has performed very well at recent major events like the World Cup.

This opener between two of Europe’s top football nations should be an exciting clash. Both teams are extremely talented and experienced. Spain will want to make a statement by winning, while Croatia have shown they can compete with anyone on the big stage.

With so much at stake, some key individual player battles on the field could decide the result. Here are three head-to-head duels fans must keep an eye on:

Three key battles that may decide Spain vs Croatia Euro 2024 clash

3. Luka Modric vs Rodri

In midfield, the battle between Croatian star Luka Modric and Spain’s Rodri will be vital. Modric, the experienced playmaker, will look to control the tempo and create scoring chances with his vision and passing ability. Rodri’s job will be to shut down Modric’s influence by winning the ball back and protecting his defence.

Modric’s guile and skill to run the game make him very dangerous. But Rodri’s tough tackling, positioning and distribution from deep could help nullify the Croatian maestro. How this midfield battle plays out could significantly impact possession and control of the match.

Also read: Spain vs Croatia: All-time head-to-head record

2. Josko Gvardiol vs Alvaro Morata

The duel between Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol and Spanish striker Alvaro Morata will be fascinating. Gvardiol, the talented Manchester City man, has been given the crucial task of keeping the experienced Morata quiet.

Gvardiol’s pace, aerial ability and overall defensive solidity will be tested by Morata’s movement, physicality and clinical finishing in the box. Morata, Spain‘s captain, will be determined to lead the attack and continue his great scoring form.

If Gvardiol can nullify the Morata threat, it severely limits Spain going forward. But if Morata finds his rhythm, he could cause all kinds of problems for Croatia’s defence.

1. Lamine Yamal vs Josip Stanisic

Out wide, the battle between Spain’s young star Lamine Yamal and Croatia’s Josip Stanisic could prove crucial. At just 16 years old, Yamal is set to become the youngest-ever player at a European Championship. His raw talent and confidence could make him very dangerous for Croatia’s defence.

Stanisic, the experienced Bayern Leverkusen defender, has the tough job of keeping the fearless teenager Yamal in check. The Croatian’s positioning, defensive discipline and ability to cope with Yamal’s pace and trickery will be put to the test.

If Yamal can find space out wide, he could create lots of chances for Spain’s attack. But if Stanisic contains him well, it takes away a major threat and Spain’s width going forward.

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