Croatia v Spain lineup Preview. Euro 2012.

Today see’s the final group matches for Group C. The scenario is both Croatia and Spain are on four points and a 2-2 draw would see both of them through to the next stage. Both have denied that have colluded together to make this result a reality and it’s highly unlikely that two very proud managers in Del Bosque and Bilic would resort to that kind controversy.

It’s also a dangerous result to go for the Spanish as a loss could potentially see them out of the tournament and the same goes for Croatia, both will want their destiny in their own hands and go for the win. That should see two strong line-ups and the possibility of a fantastic match.

  • Fernando Torres looks likely to keep his spot in the Spanish side after his two goals against the Irish. His inclusion made the team look more balanced after their first match where they started without a striker. Having Torres up front gave them a focal point to their attacks and he looked like the Torres of old. Two nice finishes would have improved his confidence and Del Bosque would want to keep that momentum going for him. With his side looking likely to go into the quarter-finals Spain will need him firing him on all cylinders.
  • While Del Bosque would want to pick his strongest side to face Croatia he would be mindful of the fact that Alba, Arbeloa and Xabi Alonso are all a booking away from missing the next match. So some changes might be made. Javi Martinez for Alonso could an option, the Bilbao captain is wanted by a number of Premier League clubs and this could be a chance for him to show why he is so highly rated.
  • Spain will look to press the Croats high up the pitch to win the ball back close to their goal. Their philosophy is it’s better to win the ball back near the opponent’s goal then it is near your own. Expect them to really harass Croatia deep in their half.
  • Croatia look to line up as their two previous matches as manager Slaven Bilic has no injury concerns. All eyes seem to be on Wolfsburg striker Mario Mandzukic who has scored three goals so far at these Euros. The striker plays a little deeper than fellow striker Jelavic and can play as a winger. He is also a great threat from set pieces with his strong heading ability.
  • Bilic will line his side in a 4-4-2 formation but that is quite deceiving as they really play more like a 4-2-3-1. That flexibility allowed his side back into the match against the Italians. In their last match Italy dominated the play but Bilic changed the formation of his side at half-time and that allowed them back into the match. Bilic is a very clever coach who can react well to situations that arise during a match.
  • Everybody knows that Modric is the main play maker for Croatia and he will probably be closely monitored by Sergio Busquets. Look for Modric to move around the pitch in an effort to drag Busquets out of position who normally plays very centrally.
  • Pique and Sergio Ramos still look like the only kink in the Spanish armor. They play well when contributing to passing the ball but have looked a little shaky when put under pressure. Ramos was shrugged off the ball by Balotelli in their first match, he recovered well but was let off the hook by Balotelli’s indecision. They were both  caught playing a high line when Di Natale ran through to score their opener. Against Ireland they had an easy night but Croatia will present them with a challenge.
  • For Croatia their defense will be tested to the limit when the Spanish start passing the ball about near their box.  Verdan Corluka is effectively a full-back playing as a centre back so a big match is expected from him after two average games leading up to today.
  • This could be Bilic’s last match for Croatia as he takes on the Lokomotic Moscow job after the Euros. Hopefully this isn’t the last match we see of Bilic and his hat at the Euros. If the results looks to benefit both sides near the end of the match, expect both of them to play keep ball.

Croatia’s Slaven Bilic

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