Thrilling football is no better than the one witnessed between Croatia and Spain in the round of 16 of Euro 2020.
Two teams with abundant talent go all out and leave everything on the pitch. Forget about tactics and game management, this is no-holds-barred.
Even though Spain won 5-3 after extra time, Zlatko Dalic’s side put a good record of themselves and stretched La Roja.
Croatian football has grown exponentially over the last decade. After missing out on finalists at the 2018 World Cup, they are expected to go further at Euro 2020.
That didn’t happen, as they were now knocked out of the tournament after falling to Spain. But critically, it cannot be said that their loss was due to a lack of effort, as they gave everything in 120 minutes.
Croatia dashes in defeat against Spain at Euro 2020
Spain are the slight favorites going into their last-16 tie against Croatia, but Monday’s game was a draw and there was very little separating the two sides.
Pedri’s own goal should have propelled Dalic’s side to a famous victory, but a lack of concentration saw Pablo Sarabia and Cesar Azpilicueta turn things around after scoring back-to-back goals.
Ferran Torres then made it 3-1 for La Roja with just 13 minutes remaining. At this point, Croatia should be done, except it isn’t.
Luka Modric and Co. refused to give up and they got the prize when Mislav Orsic and Mario Palasic scored twice late in the game to take the game into extra time.
In the end, it wasn’t enough as Alvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal ended Croatia’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2020. Yet they were dashing in defeat.
Croatia’s golden generation shines at Euro 2020
Many Croatian stars are unlikely to be present when the team plays in the next tournament. Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic have retired from the national team.
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is also likely to be the last tournament for Ivan Perisic and Modric. Croatia’s golden generation may not have won anything, but they have taken the country to another level.
Now, they have become household names in world football and their performance against Spain at Euro 2020 further deepened their status in the game.
“We lost in extra time. We were tired in the first half chasing the ball, we didn’t play like we should. After 3-1 we got back into the game, did everything we needed to and leveled the score,” Dalic said after the defeat to Spain, as quoted by Croatia Week.
“We created two good chances in extra time, we didn’t score, after that we lost our energy and strength to come back. Congratulations to Spain, and to my players for the struggle they showed, especially in the second half.”
“Croatia has shown that it has the strength, character, quality to be able to play with everyone in the world, yesterday we played against one of the best national teams in the world. Croatia must not be afraid of its future.”
Croatia’s golden generation will emerge as heroes and feel proud of their achievements despite failing at Euro 2020.
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