Looking at the glass as half-full, if England and Croatia draw on Sunday at Wembley (15:00) Spain win the group. Well, maybe not half-full, but at least there’s some water in there. Stranger things have happened, because we’ve had worse times with our national side. I remember once Balmanya was fired in the group phase… and brought back in because in the end we sneaked in thanks to Ireland winning in Czechoslovakia which nobody expected. Now, in this new competition (which I like) we started fine and finished badly and we are where we are: with our fingers crossed and praying to Saint Odo of Cluny, as we say.
Spain poor in the first half
It was an odd game in Zagreb, one which we could have won, but which we gave away with some true gifts to the opposition at the back. Spain were feeble in the first half, and awful for the first half hour, with Croatia running themselves into the ground in exchange for preventing us getting into their box and giving us a few scares. Our first decent moment arrived in the 35th minute, when we finally got a corner. After that there was at least a shot over the bar from Ceballos and another on target from Isco, cleared by Kalinic. But it was all rather tame, lacking spark, verve and passion. The full-backs weren’t attacking, the midfield wasn’t stealing the ball back, the forwards weren’t creating danger. A sad sight of a team.
The second half was a different affair: spirited. An exchange of attacks and goals which we were on the losing end of, because, it has to be said, we deserved to be. In their area Croatia played with the dignified seriousness of a top team, with the exception of Vrsaljko giving away the penalty. At the back we were a disaster, with De Gea a fundamental part of the failure, but not solely to blame, unlike during his unhappy World Cup. Here the blame can be shared between several. Now everything depends on this England - Croatia, with the winner being top of the group and the loser being relegated. And if they draw? If they draw we’ll be jumping for joy.