Euro 2024: Spain Dominates Croatia with a 3-0 Victory to Kick Off Campaign

Euro 2024: Spain Dominates Croatia with a 3-0 Victory to Kick Off Campaign

Spain opened their Euro 2024 journey in style, overpowering Croatia with a commanding 3-0 victory in their Group B opener. The first-half goals from Alvaro Morata, Fabian Ruiz, and Dani Carvajal sealed the win, establishing Spain as strong contenders for the title.

In their quest for a record fourth Euro crown, Spain delivered a masterclass performance, scoring twice within three minutes. Fabian Ruiz provided the assist for captain Alvaro Morata’s 29th-minute opener and then doubled the lead with a goal of his own shortly after. Dani Carvajal added the third, volleying in from a cross by 16-year-old sensation Lamine Yamal, who became the youngest player to appear at a European Championship.+++

Croatia, aspiring to emulate their recent World Cup successes at the Euros where they have never won a knockout game, struggled to cope with Spain’s relentless attacking play. Coach Zlatko Dalic’s game plan unraveled within the first half-hour as Spain’s high-pressing game paid off.

“We pressed high with a relentless pace from the beginning, and it worked in our favor against a great team,” said Morata. “That’s what we have to do, start the game pressuring and cornering our rivals. I thought the team looked good. Now we have to think about the next one.”

Spain, which defeated Croatia on penalties to win the Nations League last year, will next face Italy, while Croatia takes on Albania.++++

Despite the Croatian fans vastly outnumbering the Spanish supporters in the Olympiastadion, it was Spain who took control with an aggressive, high-pressing strategy. Croatia, finalists in the 2018 World Cup and semi-finalists four years later, managed to gain more possession but struggled to create clear chances. An Ante Budimir header that went wide was their best opportunity in the first half.

Rapid Fire Goals

A swift three-pass combination saw Fabian Ruiz thread a perfect through ball to Morata, putting Spain ahead. Just moments later, Pedri set up Fabian, who dribbled past three defenders to score the second goal. With the Croatian defense in disarray, Yamal’s cross found Carvajal, who expertly volleyed in the third goal.

Yamal, showing remarkable composure on his tournament debut, nearly scored seven minutes into the second half, but Croatian keeper Dominik Livakovic made an outstanding save to deny him.

“We started well, but they scored from every chance, that’s their quality. That’s it,” said Croatia midfielder Lovro Majer. “I can’t say they surprised us, we expected it. I think we also had chances, we didn’t score, and they took advantage.”

Croatia managed to create a triple chance later in the game, but neither Budimir nor Josip Stanisic could convert. They earned a penalty in the 80th minute, but Spain keeper Unai Simon saved Bruno Petkovic’s attempt. Petkovic scored on the rebound, but the goal was disallowed due to encroachment.

Euro 2024 Group B Standings: Spain on Top

Following the first round of Group B fixtures, Spain leads the standings with their 3-0 win against Croatia. Defending champions Italy secured a 2-1 victory over Albania and sit in second place on goal difference.

The Group B standings after the opening matches are as follows:

  • Team Points Matches Played Wins Draws Losses GF GA GD
  • Spain 3 1 1 0 0 3 0 3
  • Italy 3 1 1 0 0 2 1 1
  • Albania 0 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1
  • Croatia 0 1 0 0 1 0 3 -3