David Silva
Manchester City's David Silva has emerged as a key player for Spain having already contributed three assists and a goal at Euro 2012. Reuters

When and where: The Group C match kicks-off from the PGE Arena in Gdansk, Poland, at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN, with a live stream available on ESPN3.

Preview: Although both Spain and Croatia will be all too aware by now that a score draw of 2-2 or more will see both teams through to the quarter-finals, there has been no suggestion from either camp that collusion has even crossed their minds.

For Spain the scenario is clear, a win ensures that they will progress as group winners, while any draw will also see them make the last eight.

But, despite the temptation to knock out old foes Italy, Spain will claim to only be thinking of continuing their quest to become the first side to win three consecutive major titles.

After a difficult first match against the Italians, Spain looked back to their brilliant best against an admittedly poor Ireland side. There was plenty of encouragement to take from the performance, including an outstanding display by David Silva as he set up two goals and scored a fine effort himself.

But perhaps the biggest boost for coach Vicente Del Bosque was the form of Fernando Torres. After looking so far short of his best for so long, Torres looked like the lethal striker of old as he dispatched two chances in clinical fashion. A fit and firing Torres can add a whole new dimension to La Roja's play; offering the side a true threat in behind to complement the tiki-taka in front of the defense.

Croatia has perhaps even surpassed their own expectations so far in the competition. Little was expected of a side that scraped through qualifying with plenty of criticism along the way for coach Slaven Bilic, who had already announced he would be leaving the job after the tournament.

But, after profiting from some slack Irish play in their opening match, Bilic made a key adjustment at half-time against Italy to help his side recover to earn a potentially crucial 1-1 draw.

Bilic switched forward Mario Mandzukic to the right at the break, allowing Ivan Rakitic to beef up a midfield area that was being run by Italy's Andrea Pirlo in the opening 45 minutes. It is likely that Croatia will start with that set-up against Spain.

The point against Italy means that a win will guarantee Croatia's progress, while a draw of 2-2 or more will also see them take their place in the last eight for the second European Championships in succession.


G: Pletikosa

D: Srna, Corluka, Schildenfeld, Strinic

M: Vukojevic, Rakitic

Mandzukic, Modric, Perisic

F: Jelavic


G: Casillas

D: Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba

M: Busquets, Alonso

Silva, Xavi, Iniesta

F: Torres

Prediction: It's hard to see this current Spain side concerning themselves with the idea of knocking out Italy. In times past they may have feared facing the Italians later in the tournament, but this crop of players know that on their day there is no team in the world that can live with them. All the focus will be on continuing to refine their performances and maintain momentum ahead of bigger tests later in the competition. Unfortunately for Croatia, that is likely to mean the end of the competition for Bilic's side.

Spain has far too much quality in the middle of the field, meaning that it is unlikely that Croatia's key player, Luka Modric, will be able to assert any kind of influence on proceedings.

Croatia's best hope is to try and get their full-backs forward and hope that Nikica Jelavic and Mandzukic can continue to profit from crosses into the box, something which could be a weakness for the Spanish defense.

But it is unlikely that Croatia will see enough of the ball to mount any kind of pressure.

Croatia 0-2 Spain