Croatia v Spain: Nations League final – live | Nations League

Key events

57 min Pino releases Alba down the left and he stands up a cross, but Asensio is a fair way out and yanking beck behind ball to impart power, while behind him Gavi had a much better angle to run onto it and attack it properly.

56 min Again, Perisic blazes past Navas, but this time the man with the eyes comes back at him, Gavi also getting involved in the tussle to avert the potential danger.

55 min It’s been a slow start to the second half, and I’d expect Luis de la Fuente to do something about that because Croatia look the likelier.

54 min I do, though, remember Watford’s Steve Sherwood looking resplendent in red through the mid-80s.

watford at the 1984 cup final, steve sherwood their keeper wearing red
Photograph: Colorsport/REX/Shutterstock

52 min “Shilton in white looks even more all wrong – a nightclub bouncer in a negligée,” asserts Charles Antaki. “Acceptable colours for a goalkeeper are, in increasing aesthetic order: lime green, orange, pink, yellow, green, black (but only if your name is Lev Yashin).”

As I recall, in England they almost all wore green until the start of the Premier League, when refs changed to that from black.

51 min Here comes Perisic down the left, chuckling a lollipop that seems him down the outside of Navas and allowing him to stand up a cross that Unai Simon comes for and misses! But picking up the ball on the right of the box, Juranovic can only drag a shot wide of the far post. That was a chance.

50 min “Two things are ridiculous here,” reckons Paulo Biriani.

“1) Spain’s high line

2) the Spanish manager’s decision to wear white trainers with a black suit.

Good game thus far.”

Yes, I’d agree with that. I’m of the opinion that trainers and flip-flops are the only footwear a person needs, but with a syoot, care needs taking.

48 min Something worth noting: Spain’s bench options are by far the better. I’d expect to see Olmo and Rodrigo if this stays goalless for much longer, especially if Croatia stay in the ascendancy.

47 min At half-time, Emma Hayes noted that Spain “can’t access the central corridor” because Croatia have a narrow three in front of their back four; I guess that’s why they’ve moved Ruiz up.

46 min “You mentioned Shilton wearing all-white in the 1970s,” emails Matthew Vallance, retired Scottish sportswriter and former goalkeeper. “I cannot say for sure he wore all-white, but, the legendary amateur goalkeeper Harry Sharratt wore a white jersey in one of Bishop Auckland’s televised Amateur Cup wins in the 1950s.”

46 min …and we go again!

Back come our teams…

Half-time reading: on Father’s Day, here’s a piece about going the game with your dad.

Half-time: Croatia 0-0 Spain

That wasn’t bad, and there’s fair prospect of an improvement after the break.

45 min …and they make a total pig’s posterior of it, Asensio and Gavi trying to work an angle but the latter playing for the former into trouble, and when Alba’s ball eventually comes in, there’s too much on it for Le Normand.

44 min Spain are improving, and Pino sways by Brozovic before Modric upends him 25 yards out, probably too far left of centre for a shot…

41 min Spain have put Ruiz alongside Gavi behind Morata, looking to play into two men rather than one and give Croatia a call to make in terms of who picks him up. And they’re knocking it about nicely now, trying to move their opponents around before springing into attack … and here we go, Alba collecting a pass, stamping on the gas and getting into a crossing position, Morata glancing a quarter-chance wide at the near post.

Fabian Ruiz of Spain controls the ball with the outside of his boot.
Fabian Ruiz of Spain controls the ball with the outside of his boot. Photograph: DeFodi Images/Getty Images

39 min Perisic is getting into some decent positions from left-back – Croatia must think there’s a back-stick mismatch between him and Navas, which is true, there is. And again, he attacks a Modric ball in, this time a diag, but again, he’s too far out to seriously trouble Simon with his header.

38 min Now it’s Perisic over the top and Brozovic is in space down the right side of the box! He teases Gavi inside and out before snapping a low cross across the face, but there’s no one on-hand to meet it. Spain can’t play this high without pressure on the ball, this is Villas-Boas stuff from them so far.

36 min There’s more intensity and conviction about Croatia’s work; they expect something to happen whereas Spain are hoping it will.

35 min And a bit more on Saudi and Chelsea. Todd Boehly is a lucky, lucky man.

33 min “Magnificent to see a European final being held at De Kuip again,” reckons Jack Doxey, “for the first time in two decades. If I’m not mistaken De Kuip has hosted more European finals than any stadium expect Wembley, and hopefully – if long-overdue renovations are carried out – soon it’ll start hosting finals more frequently again. Also great to see that Croatia’s fans are living up to the standard for atmosphere which Feyenoord set in that stadium.”

Can’t argue with that, it’s a proper football ground in a proper football city – although the moat around the perimeter means fans are further from the pitch than is ideal.

31 min But Croatia look the likelier, and when Modric teases in a free-kick from 35 yards out, sending it from right to left, Perisic charges into the box from very wide to send a header from distance towards the bottom corner … but Simon scrambles it away.

30 min A lull. Mainly, these teams are cancelling each other out, with neither midfield able to dictate.

28 min Spain look a bit shaky at the back. Croatia lack the class up front to properly punish them for that, but that’s not their way, rather they find a moment or two which is generally all they need.

26 min “White goalkeeper kits have been available for around 50 years,” advises Andy Flintoff. Peter Shilton used to wear them for Leicester City in the 73-74 season.”

25 min More from the Saudi league, and I’d expect Chelsea to toss a few more players in that direction too.

Negotiations between Hakim Ziyech and Al Nassr are advancing well. Chelsea are pushing to get it done next week, player open to the move as he’d join Cristiano Ronaldo. 🚨🔵🇸🇦 #CFC

🔴 No agreement on personal terms yet between Pierre Aubameyang and Saudi clubs. Talks continue.

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) June 18, 2023

24 min The corner comes to nowt but Croatia sustain the attack and Kramaric, now out on the right, crosses low, but Pasalci, sliding in, can’t get enough on his shot and Simon fields easily enough. This is warming up a bit now.

23 min There’s that ball over the top again! It’s a long one from Erlic – I think – and Kramaric is in behind! But he doesn’t have the pace to escape and Laporte recovers really well to extend a leg and push behind for a corner. Another warning for spain.

Croatia's Andrej Kramaric, centre, is challenged by Spain's Aymeric Laporte.
Croatia’s Andrej Kramaric, centre, is challenged by Spain’s Aymeric Laporte. Photograph: Martin Meissner/AP

21 min Oh, Spain want a penalty when Gavi heads into Ivanusec’s chest – it’s no such thing – and when Croatia counter, Pino scythes into a hack which stops the attack. Somehow, he escapes a booking.

20 min Behind the Croatian goal, their supporters are bouncing away, flares glowing, but Morata wins a corner … which comes to nothing.

18 min “The Spain keeper is in an all-white kit, returns Charles Antaki. “Unacceptable. All white is OK for the outfield players where you can make a case for silvery, mercurial slipperiness. Keeper has to be solid, steadfast & highly visible. Uefa take action please.”

I can’t argue with that, and in similar vein, I’d also ban Raphael Varane for being more handsome than any centre-back, never mind one that good in the air, has any business being.

16 min I think Spain have more edge than Croatia, but Croatia look more settled into what they’re doing.

14 min Modric lifts a ball over the top for Pasalic and the flag goes up, but nevertheless that’s a warning for Spain because it was tight and Croatia have midfielders who can pick those kinds of passes.

12 min Here we go! Spain spring, Gavi robbing Kovacic just outside the box, advancing, and trying a Solskjaer-style finish dragged through the defenders leg seeking the near post. But he gets just too much angle on it, the ball scooshing wide. But what happened is worth remembering; I wonder if the plan is to get on the Chelsea man when he receives the ball off his back four.

11 min Townsend is good in co-comms, and he notes that in possession, Croatia have both full-backs high and wide, so if Spain can turn the ball over they’ll have loads of space into which they can spring.

10 min Ruiz, who looks not unlike a lanky James Maddison, swings a cross out from the left, Livakovic makes a proper hash of catching it, and is relieved to see the flag go up, though Morata couldn’t do much with the rebound.

8 min So where do we rank Modric? The greatest of his generation? As great as Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta? I guess, if you’re pushing me, I’m having him above the former and just below the latter two because they inspired a way of playing, but I’d not question your parentage on the internet if your order was different.

Luka Modric of Croatia fends off Fabian Ruiz of Spain.
Luka Modric of Croatia fends off Fabian Ruiz of Spain. Photograph: Soccrates Images/Getty Images

7 min Croatia knock it around looking to draw Spain onto them; Spain aren’t pressing them as they did Italy, preferring to engage if and when things develop.

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