Spanish media worried about Italy clash after defeat to Croatia

Until late on Tuesday night, most football fans and most sections of the media in Spain were fairly convinced that La Roja were on their way to an unprecedented third straight Euros triumph.

Indeed, that was the collective sentiment in Spain right up until Ivan Perisic's shock late winner for Croatia against Vicente del Bosque's holders in Bordeaux.

"That goal could end up changing everything," commented Radio Marca.

"It has put us into the difficult half of the draw, and has immediately taken away our optimism...Now we will have to beat Italy, and probably Germany and France as well, in order to reach the final."

Had Spain managed to hold out for a draw against Croatia, then they would have been placed in the 'easy' side of the bracket, facing one of the third-placed teams in the round of 16 then - if they managed to qualify - either Poland or Switzerland in the quarter-finals.

Instead, they now have Group E winners Italy waiting for them Monday in Saint-Denis - with Germany and France as potential opponents in the quarters and semi-finals.

"That was a very unfortunate defeat, and it might have very severe consequences," commented sports daily AS.

"Now Spain will have to do it the hard way, against the toughest possible opponents."

AS remarked that Spain looked "innocent and naive" in both penalty areas against Croatia, wasting chances in attack then leaving "massive gaps in defence."

Radio station Cadena COPE asked why Spain were pouring forward and leaving so few men in defence, with just four minutes left at 1-1, when a draw would have been an excellent result.

"The team should have been more professional and closed down the game, either with a second goal or with some efficient keep-ball tactics in the final minutes."

Meanwhile, Cadena SER asked why it was defender Sergio Ramos who took Spain's penalty - and missed it - with 20 minutes left, rather than one of the forwards.

Ramos himself said after the defeat in Bordeaux: "It was a very strange match. We had the chances to finish them off, including my penalty, but we failed to do so.

"This is what can happen in football, when you don't put away your chances...In order to end up as champions, you have to beat the best teams sooner or later."

Meanwhile, striker Nolito - whose place might be in question against Italy, after a flat display - said: "Nobody likes to lose, but we just have to pick ourselves up now and carry on.

"We won two matches and everyone was getting excited. Now we just have to calm down again and think about Monday."

Another player coming in for criticism is goalkeeper David de Gea, who was sluggish to say the least on both of Croatia's goals.

"Possibly with (Iker) Casillas still in goal we would not have lost this game," commented Radio Marca.

Casillas was first-choice for Spain from 2002 until this year, winning the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2008 and 2012, but has now been benched to make way for De Gea.

Last update: Wed, 22/06/2016 - 12:08

More from Sport

Reports: AC Milan sale to Chinese group postponed to March

AC Milan's controlling company Fininvest and Sino-Europe Sports have agreed on moving the sale of the Serie A club...

Croatian footballer under investigation for tax evasion in Spain

The captain of Croatia's national football team and a member of the Real Madrid squad, Luka Modric (31), has come...

Chapecoense declared Copa Sudamericana champions after plane crash

The South American Football Confederation CONMEBOL Monday declared Chapecoense AF the winner of the 2-million-dollar...

Chelsea, Man City charged over scuffle; Aguero, Fernandinho banned

Chelsea and Manchester City face the likelihood of hefty fines after they were charged by the Football Association...

Blatter says he has lost CAS appeal against football ban

Former FIFA president Joseph Blatter said Monday he has lost his appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)...