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June 18, 2012 2:45 PM EDT
PGE Arena Gdańsk — Gdańsk
Referee:‬ W. Stark‎
Attendance:‬ 39076‎
 

Euro 2012 Preview: Croatia - Spain

The two teams have the luxury of sitting at the top of the table on four points each, knowing a victory or even a high-scoring draw will book a coveted spot in the knockout round

By Adam Scime

  PROBABLE LINEUPS

CROATIA

Pletikosa
Srna, Corluka, Schildenfeld, Strinic
Vukojevic, Rakitic
Mandzukic, Modric, Perisic
Jelavic

SPAIN

Casillas
Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba
Busquets, Alonso
Silva, Xavi, Iniesta
Torres


Croatia and Spain lead Group C going into their final clash, but neither are assured of a place in the quarterfinals just yet.

After coming from behind to earn a 1-1 draw with Italy, coach Slaven Bilic may stick with the tactical adjustment of switching from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-2-3-1, which allowed his side to score the crucial equalizer. Playmaker Luka Modric was pushed further up field and goalscorer Mario Mandzukic off to the right of the attack in a move that paid second-half dividends on Thursday.

However, Everton striker Nikica Jelavic missed training on Saturday with a fever, although he is still expected to recover in time to lead the line against the champions at the PGE Arena Gdansk.

The Spanish were in fine form last time out, humiliating Republic of Ireland 4-0 and are likely to make do with an identical starting XI, but coach Vicente del Bosque will be wary of the fact that Xabi Alonso, Alvaro Arbeloa and Fernando Torres are on yellow cards and could miss the last-eight clash - assuming Spain qualifies - if they pick up another booking.

The former Real Madrid boss has hinted that Cesc Fabregas, despite scoring in both games at the finals thus far, is likely to find himself on the bench. Meanwhile, attackers Juan Mata and Fernando Llorente will be hoping to earn their first minutes on the pitch at Euro 2012 at some point in the match even if it is in the form of a substitute appearance.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • Croatia and Del Bosque's side can both guarantee their place in the quarterfinals with a draw of 2-2 or higher.
  • Croatia has never faced Spain in a competitive match. All four of the meetings between the two sides have been friendlies, with their only victory coming via a 2-0 triumph back in 1994. Croatia's overall record against Spain is W1, D1, L2.
  • Striker Mario Mandzukic has been clinical at Euro 2012, scoring three times from four attempts on goal.
  • Croatia has not lost any of its last six matches at the European Championship, being ousted only via a penalty shootout by Turkey in 2008.
  • Spain set a new record with 860 passes at the tournament during its 4-0 win over Ireland, beating the previous landmark of 778.
  • Xavi (pictured right) set a new individual record himself in the competition by attempting 136 passes against the Boys in Green, beating Ronald Koeman's total of 117 from a Euro 1992 clash versus Denmark.
  • The champions have only conceded one goal in their last six matches at major international tournaments.
  • Fernando Torres' double in the victory over Ireland took him to 30 international goals, making him the country's third all-time top scorer behind only Raul and David Villa.


Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
Head to Head
European Championship Qualification 2012 ‎(EC)‎ Jun 18, 2012 Croatia 0 - Spain 1
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International Friendlies ‎(FR)‎ Jun 7, 2006 Croatia 1 - Spain 2
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Last Five Matches
Croatia
Mar 5, 2014Switzerland 2 - Croatia 2FR
Nov 19, 2013Croatia 2 - Iceland 0WCQE
Nov 15, 2013Iceland 0 - Croatia 0WCQE
Oct 15, 2013Scotland 2 - Croatia 0WCQE
Oct 11, 2013Croatia 1 - Belgium 2WCQE
Spain
Mar 5, 2014Spain 1 - Italy 0FR
Nov 19, 2013South Africa 1 - Spain 0FR
Nov 16, 2013Equatorial Guinea 1 - Spain 2FR
Oct 15, 2013Spain 2 - Georgia 0WCQE
Oct 11, 2013Spain 2 - Belarus 1WCQE
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Stipe PletikosaGoalkeeper
2Ivan StrinicDefender
5Vedran CorlukaDefender
11Darijo SrnaDefender
13Gordon SchildenfeldDefender
21Domagoj VidaDefender
6Danijel PranjicDefender
7Ivan RakiticMidfielder
8Ognjen VukojevicMidfielder
10Luka ModricMidfielder
17Mario MandzukicMidfielder
-Ivan Kelava
23Danijel SubasicGoalkeeper
3Josip SimunicDefender
-Jurica Buljat
-Sime VrsaljkoDefender
14Milan BadeljMidfielder
-Tomislav Dujmovic
19Niko KranjcarMidfielder
20Ivan PerisicMidfielder
9Nikica JelavicStriker
16Nikola KalinicStriker
22EduardoStriker
1Iker CasillasGoalkeeper
3PiquéDefender
15Sergio RamosDefender
17ArbeloaDefender
18Jordi AlbaDefender
6Andrés Iniesta LujánMidfielder
8XaviMidfielder
14Xabi AlonsoMidfielder
16BusquetsMidfielder
21David SilvaMidfielder
-Fernando Torres
12Víctor ValdésGoalkeeper
23Pepe ReinaGoalkeeper
2Raúl Albiol Defender
5JuanfranMidfielder
4Javi MartínezMidfielder
10Cesc FàbregasMidfielder
20Santi CazorlaMidfielder
22Jesús Navas GonzálezMidfielder
11PedroStriker
11NegredoStriker
10Juan MataStriker
19Fernando Llorente Striker
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
Fernando Torres Fernando Torres
Striker
Chelsea
3 0
Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo
Striker
Real Madrid
3 0
Mario Gomez Mario Gomez
Striker
Fiorentina
3 0
Mario Balotelli Mario Balotelli
Striker
Milan
3 0
Mario Mandzukic Mario Mandzukic
Striker
FC Bayern München
3 0