The SPAIN FOOTBALL TEAM will now play with the second placed of Group D that will be settled tomorrow & that could be either France or England.
|Spain Football Team photo|
The above photo is the starting line-up 11 Spanish Team which was a repeat of the Ireland match.
Spain resorted to some long range shots Xabi, Ramos & Pique in an attempt to override the Croatian defensive wall that was solid & uncomfortable.
Things complicated itself for both sides. In the other Group game Italy was ahead & with a draw between Croatia & Spain the latter was through, but a goal by Croatia would eliminate the current World & European Champions.
There was also some risky actions by Spanish players that could have been costly. Sergio Ramos may have committed a penalty on Mandzokic late first half that was not called. In the second half IKER CASILLAS made two vital saves that reaffirms why his nick-name in Spanish is "El Santo" - The Saint. The Spanish goalie stopped a certain Rakitic header & another shot that if not halted would have put Croatia ahead & sent Spain home.
This time Spain can claim to have had the luck of the Champions. It was that close!
|Iniesta & Navas celebrate|
Croatia moved their pieces & put on more forwards sacrificing defensive players. Spain put on Jesus Navas for Torres to break the Croatian defence & later Cesc for Silva to put on the field some fresh ideas.
It was an even affair & dangerous - for both sides - as time was running out. A goal by Croatia would knock out Spain as they would not have the time to react. Then in the 87th min a Cesc pass found Iniesta who controlled & passed to Navas who was alone to score the winner & secure the Q/Final birth for Spain & Group C top spot.
Spain won, but it was truly suffered & on-edge Football. One can say it was the type of "dirty" match that all aspiring Champions must go through. Perhaps this was Spain´s dirty match in this 2012 Euro Championships. The other lesson is that from here onwards its the "business end" & rivals will only get stronger & better. In fact every game from now on is a final.
Unlucky for Croatia which may have deserved more, more than Italy perhaps, but Football is an uncaring & heartless game at times.