Here are three thoughts of mine from Spain's 1-0 Group C victory over Croatia.
A Largely Ho-Hum Performance by Spain
Okay, Spain had the lion's share of possession. While that's like saying the sky is blue, the Spaniards never seriously tested Croatian goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa in the first half, and while Fernando Torres was a bit active early in the match (forcing a save from Pletikosa from a difficult angle in the 23rd minute), he didn't really build on his performance against Ireland.
In fact, Croatia had the best chance of the half when Danijel Pranjic forced an excellent save from Iker Casillas in the 25th minute.
But back to Torres. While he didn't really blow any chances, it is concerning that he was largely quiet against Croatia. The Spanish attack was more dangerous after the insertion of Jesus Navas.
Iker to the Rescue
Although it may have occurred to many that Spain would eventually find the goal that clinched a spot in the semifinals, they did have a couple of nervous moments—especially considering a Croatian victory would have shockingly sent the defending Euro and World Champions home.
Enter Iker Casillas. In addition to his 25th save on Pranjic, the Spanish captain made a brilliant save on Ivan Rakitic (in the 59th minute) and another solid stop on an Ivan Perisic blast 20 minutes later.
Luka Modric Can Surely Produce Some Magic
Whenever Croatia had possession (which definitely wasn't enough), they did look dangerous when Luka Modric had the ball in space.
Case in point: his brilliant cross to Ivan Rakitic came about when he waited for more help to arrive in the attacking third. Had Rakitic converted the chance, Modric's feed might have gone down as the assist of the tournament.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!