Nations League, Spain beat Croatia on penalties and win the title

Nations League, Spain beat Croatia on penalties and win the title

La Roja beat Croatia from a penalty kick after 120 minutes of battle and won the third edition, succeeding Portugal and France.

There are those who have already made a tangible mark in the last fifteen years, when they were at the peak of their talent, and those who deserve to be remembered with a trophy for what they have done recently. However, football is often unfair and this time it isn’t. After two European Championships and the 2010 World Cup, Spain is also presenting its third edition of the Nations League. Excellent Croatia, which does not lose its advantages, yields only to penalties: Petkovic’s blunder, who with his ingenuity (a goal and a penalty) brought Dalic’s national team to the final against the Netherlands, while Carvajal was the score. Complete with a spoon which is worth a cup. The bitterness lingers, at seeing the Croatians’ golden generation reach again one step from the finish line and then fall apart. This happened in the World Cup in Russia, where he lost in the final, and in the previous matches, where he finished on the lowest step of the podium. Always an honorable ride, but always someone else partying.

the match

Both coaches generally confirm the match plan for the semi-finals. Spain changed two men compared to the success against Italy, with Fabian Ruiz replacing Merino and Asensio replacing Rodrygo. Only one new event for Croatia, the use of Erlik instead of Vida, confirms Perisic as a lower winger. Providence’s men from the previous round, Yoselo and Petkovic, start off the bench. Even the explanation remains largely the same: De la Fuente’s national team immediately raises the pressure on the opposition’s first build and it’s no coincidence that the first chances come from two mistakes from the Croatian defence. In the ninth minute, Levakovic was almost caught in a Ruiz cross, the ball headed to the post and then Morata intervened but it was offside. Shortly thereafter, Ehrlich not paying attention to his goalkeeper’s pass, Jaffe huddled on the edge a lot with his right foot that ended in a wide (12′) hair. Dalic’s formation gains space as the minutes go by, benefiting from the intensity of the midfield with Modric moving on time to the side where the movement develops. However, the greatest risks arise from the airways. Laporte stands out in an excellent rebound on Kramaric, coming straight from defence. Half an hour later instead it is Perisic, in a continuous attacking projection, who calls Simon into question with two headers: the first is blocked in two stages, the second is less cunning.

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There is no news of a return from the changing rooms, even in terms of what might be seen on the pitch. The energetic Perisic cuts through to the left and crosses at the far post, Juranović controls but from a good position he shoots the ball too far and misses the goal (51). The Spanish responded with Asensio breaking away and Rodri volleying in from distance, both wide of the goal. After an hour of play, Dalic and De la Fuente came up with the same idea: on the one hand, Petkovic enters with Croatia who turns into attackers in the middle, on the other hand Morata and Pino give way to Joselo and Ansu Fati, who keeps the trident. In the 75th minute, Levakovic bravely went out to anticipate the Barcelona full-back, Ruiz trying to surprise him with a header that did not go far from the top corner. In the 84th minute Spain had the ball that could deserve the Nations League title: Merino Fati hit the area, his shot from close range headed into the corner but the omnipresent Perisic was waiting for him on the line and removed the threat. The draw is fixed and extra time becomes necessary. The teams are pretty tired, but Spain can count on the high quality of their substitutes as well. The only situation worth noting is Dani Olmo’s turn in the 108th minute, which was providentially deflected by Sotalo in the center of the area.


Croatia bears the burden of starting the series. Vlasic is not mistaken, Joselo is complete. The transformations of Brozovic, Rodri, Modric and Merino are also impeccable. After six flawless penalties, Madjer’s foul arrived: a center and half-height shot, which Simon managed to parry with his feet. Asensio leads Spain forward, Perisic keeps hope and that’s a key realization, because Laporte hits the match point against the crossbar. However, Simon is in for a fun filled day and also dodges Petkovic’s score and Carvajal gives the trophy to his team with a spoon.

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