Euro 2020’s long, winding path to Wembley allows teams to take their time, settle in and play their way into form. That said, Croatia and Spain both took liberties with the slow-burn format. Both got a decent way into their third games without leaving second gear, and risked drifting out of the competition with a collective shrug.
When the heat was on we got a sense of what these teams can really do, with Spain’s forwards finding fluency against Slovakia, and Croatia taking an icy grip on proceedings at Hampden Park. That focus must be maintained today, because whatever happens one of these teams will join the Netherlands and Portugal in the departure lounge.
Like many other teams in this tournament, Croatia and Spain are trying to blend youth and experience, moving on from “golden generations” while still leaning on their old stagers every now and then. If either can get the balance right, they could still go much further – but time is running out. Kick-off is at 5pm BST, 6pm local.