Euro 2012: Spain v Croatia preview
Fernando Torres rediscovered his scoring touch against Ireland Reuters

Defending champions Spain will meet Croatia in a major competition for the first time in the two countries' histories when Vicente del Bosque and Slaven Bilic send their charges out at Gdansk on Monday. Both sides are joint top of Group C but neither is sure of a spot in the knockout stages of th 2012 European Championships, as yet.


The two teams are joint leaders of Group C with four points and are two ahead of third placed Italy. The Spaniards and the Croatians can ensure their place in the quarterfinals if they play out a 2-2 draw, which will ensure that Italy will be eliminated regardless of any result they may achieve in the group's other game against Ireland. Given the circumstances, while Croatia might settle for a point, the reigning world and European champions are unlikely to be satisfied with a draw on Monday, after their 4-0 victory over Ireland in the last game. Indeed, Croatia could also be less than inclined to be happy with a draw.

Team News and Tactics:

Spain: Vicente del Bosque's side were at their best in the last outing, hammering Ireland in the process. The Spaniards have not qualified for the quarterfinals yet and are therefore highly unlikely to change from the starting line-up that so comprehensively beat the Irish. This means Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas, despite scoring in both games so far, will be on the bench. His club team mates Xavi and Sergio Busquets, along with Real Madrid's Xabi Alonso should line up in the centre of a 4-3-3 formation, with Barcelona's Andres Iniesta, Manchester City's David Silva and Chelsea's Fernando Torres ahead of them.

Croatia: After going a goal down against Italy, Slaven Bilic made a tactical tweak at the break. He switched from a 4-2-2-2 formation to a 4-2-3-1 and the relative stability of that formation helped his side score the important equaliser. The coach might opt to retain that line-up, which means sought after midfielder Luka Modric will move up the field to a more familiar playmaker role, while Ivan Rakitic falls back from the right to a holding midfielder role alongside Ognjen Vukojevic. Forward Mario Mandzukic will be pushed to the right of the attack with Ivan Perisic on the other flank and Everton's Nikica Jelavic will feature as the lone striker. However, there is some doubt over Jelavic's fitness, meaning a further reshuffle may be called for, if he fails to recover in time.


  • Spain and Croatia have played four friendlies so far. Spain have won twice and lost once
  • Croatia remain unbeaten over the last six games at the European Championships. The exception was a penalty shootout defeat to Turkey in the 2008 Championships
  • Spain set a new European Championship record with 860 passes in their game against Ireland, beating their own previous milestone of 778
  • Xavi set a new individual passing record at the Euros by attempting 136 passes (127 successful) in that game, beating Holland star Ronald Koeman's landmark of 117 passes set 20 years ago against Denmark

Probable starting line-up:

Spain (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Arbeloa, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Busquets, Alonso; Silva, Xavi, Iniesta; Torres

Croatia (4-2-3-1): Pletikosa; Srna, Corluka, Schildenfeld, Strinic; Vukojevic, Rakitic; Mandzukic, Modric, Perisic; Jelavic

Where to Watch Live:

You can follow the game live from 7.15 pm BST on BBC One, as well as BBC Radio 5 live and the official UEFA Web site. You can also catch highlights on BBC One and the BBC Sport Web site.