Spain-Croatia was a game that will forever live in our collective memory. It was a roller coaster of emotion, with both two teams combining successes with errors that resulted in an appetizing feast of goals.
Unai Simón and Alvaro Morata turned from villains to heroes. We may have seen Modric’s final minutes as an international. Pedri finally reached adulthood and the new generation, made up of unknown faces, showed that it deserves its place among our footballing saints.
It was a game in which every type of football was played, with the outcome being the 5-3 scoreline that sent Spain into the quarterfinals. The issue surrounding a lack of goals has now been rectified as La Roja have scored ten in their last two games.
Unai Simon and Morata
Hats off to Unai Simón. After giving away a horrific own goal (Pedri was partly to blame for it but, like Simón, was able to keep his chin up after the error), he remained calm. At the request of Luis Enrique, he used his feet from the start and, from his boot, the play that ended in Azpilicueta's goal was born.
He then pulled off two model saves reminiscent of Casillas, the miracle keeper, with catlike reactions that are not frequent among those of his stature. As for Morata, once again he struck blows, he played the ball well and did what was necessary to ensure his teammates benefited from his game. Only this time he crowned his performance with a tremendous goal that finally decided the match.
Spain’s defensive errors
Not everything went perfectly for Spain. They continued to concede a lot defensively (Croatia didn't do enough to warrant three goals) and they misjudged the rhythm of the game when they were 3-1 up -- when the prudent thing to do would have been to group together, rather than spreading out to press high.
But those defects contributed to the beautiful, crazy and fun evening, in which Luis Enrique’s boys were able to rectify their errors with collective enthusiasm in extra time. We have looked at this team with distrust because of the many unknown faces and because Luis Enrique is not exactly popular. But it’s now time to admit that it’s nice to see him represented by this group.