Spain aiming to clinch top spot against Croatia

Holders Spain are determined to clinch top spot in Euro 2016 Group D Tuesday, with at least a draw in their last game against Croatia in Bordeaux.

La Roja are two points ahead of Croatia, five ahead of the Czech Republic and six above bottom team Turkey.

They clinched their place in the round of 16 Friday with an impressive 3-0 caning of Turkey, and now have their sights set on a first-place finish. 

The defeat of Turkey has provoked a state of expectation if not euphoria in Spain, with most of the fans and media now believing that their team is close to recovering the swagger and success last enjoyed in 2012.

An online poll taken by sports daily AS showed 61 per cent of readers convinced that La Roja will make history, by becoming the first country to win three straight Euros.

"The victory over Turkey has given the country back its optimism," remarked Radio Marca.

"And it is understandable. To be honest, it is not easy to see what team might be able to beat Spain, if their current form continues."

Veteran manager Vicente del Bosque - who is planning to retire after the Euros - actually fielded the same starting lineup against the Czechs and Turkey, for the first time in 52 games since he took over in 2008.

However, he is reportedly considering ringing the changes for Tuesday, in order to give certain players a rest before the round of 16.

According to AS, Del Bosque is contemplating fielding veteran keeper Iker Casillas, who has been dropped to make room for David de Gea.

Veteran playmaker Andres Iniesta - the player of the tournament so far, according to the Spanish press - has a slight ankle sprain and might be replaced by Koke or Thiago.

And in attack, Pedro and Aritz Aduriz might be brought in to give rest to Alvaro Morata or Nolito.

"This squad is full of quality players, so whoever comes in will surely maintain our high level," midfielder Cesc Fabregas said.

"We have made a good start. In particular, we are defending well and this is a good base to build upon. This means we can attack with confidence, knowing that things are in order behind us.

"We are working hard as a team, and our collective sensations are very positive."

In contrast, Croatia are approaching the game in poor heart, after conceding a late 2-2 draw Friday against the Czechs - and after all the law and order problems caused by some of their fans.

In addition, they will be without their veteran schemer Luka Modric, who picked up a groin strain Friday.

Last update: Sun, 19/06/2016 - 12:40
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