Spain v Croatia: Euro 2024 – live

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Can they repeat their frequent World Cup heroics at a Euros? Luka Modric will again be relied upon to lead an ageing but always dangerous side, writes Aleksandar Holiga.

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Luis de la Fuente has built a young side around an experienced spine but can they recapture the glory years for La Roja? Words: David Álvarez and Juan I Irigoyen.

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The city of Berlin is the setting for today’s encounter between Spain and Croatia which, on paper at least, is one of the more mouthwatering clashes of these group stages, even if both teams will fancy their chances of advancing to the knockout stages, even if Italy and Albania may beg to differ.

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While they are renowned for repeatedly punching above their weight on the world stage, Croatia’s record at the European Championship is not gread and they have never advanced beyond the quarter-finals of this competition. This year could be no excpetion, as Zlatko Dalic’s ageing side have the air about them of The Expendables regrouping for one last job but only a fool would write them off.

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Having lost at home to Turkey and away to Wales in qualifying, their progress to these finals was not without its hiccups but they are here now and in Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic, have a potential starting midfield trio with 372 caps between them.

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Managed by Luis de la Fuente and skippered by Alvaro Morata, Spain come into these Euros with the whiff of scandal about them, its roots in the Luis Rubiales fiasco which followed the Women’s World Cup. With these issuses largely restricted to the corridors of power at the headquarters of the Spanish Football Federation, it’s to be hoped the efforts of their entirely blameless players were in any way tainted by association.

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A healthy mix of youth and experience, they will be looking to whelpish young bucks such as Pedri, Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal, as well as older heads such as Jesus Navas, Rodri, Dani Carvajal and their captain to help steer them through these group stages with a minimum of fuss. Kick-off at the Olympiastadion is at 5pm (BST) but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.

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Key events

Guardian Experts’ Network: Croatia

Can they repeat their frequent World Cup heroics at a Euros? Luka Modric will again be relied upon to lead an ageing but always dangerous side, writes Aleksandar Holiga.

Guardian Experts’ Network: Spain

Luis de la Fuente has built a young side around an experienced spine but can they recapture the glory years for La Roja? Words: David Álvarez and Juan I Irigoyen.

Early team news: Lamine Yamal is expected to start for Spain today and at the age of 16, the Barcelona winger will become the youngest player to take to the pitch in European Championship history. At just 14 years his young teammate’s senior, Aymeric Laporte is unblikely to be risked after missing training on Thursday with a soft tissue injury. Nacho will almost certainly deputise in the event of Laporte’s absence.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has a full complement of players to choose from, although Ivan Perisic is unlikely to start. The Tottenham winger injured his cruciate seven months ago and in January went on loan to his hometown club of Hajduk Split, with whom he is expected to sign a one-year deal once his contract with Spurs expires later this month. The 35-year-old has not played a full 90 minutes since returning from injury in early April.

Croatian spring chickens Ivan Perisic (35) and Luka Modric (38) take part in a public training session earlier this week. Photograph: Sören Stache/AP

Group B: Spain v Croatia

The city of Berlin is the setting for today’s encounter between Spain and Croatia which, on paper at least, is one of the more mouthwatering clashes of these group stages, even if both teams will fancy their chances of advancing to the knockout stages, even if Italy and Albania may beg to differ.

While they are renowned for repeatedly punching above their weight on the world stage, Croatia’s record at the European Championship is not gread and they have never advanced beyond the quarter-finals of this competition. This year could be no excpetion, as Zlatko Dalic’s ageing side have the air about them of The Expendables regrouping for one last job but only a fool would write them off.

Having lost at home to Turkey and away to Wales in qualifying, their progress to these finals was not without its hiccups but they are here now and in Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic, have a potential starting midfield trio with 372 caps between them.

Managed by Luis de la Fuente and skippered by Alvaro Morata, Spain come into these Euros with the whiff of scandal about them, its roots in the Luis Rubiales fiasco which followed the Women’s World Cup. With these issuses largely restricted to the corridors of power at the headquarters of the Spanish Football Federation, it’s to be hoped the efforts of their entirely blameless players were in any way tainted by association.

A healthy mix of youth and experience, they will be looking to whelpish young bucks such as Pedri, Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal, as well as older heads such as Jesus Navas, Rodri, Dani Carvajal and their captain to help steer them through these group stages with a minimum of fuss. Kick-off at the Olympiastadion is at 5pm (BST) but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.

The Guardian