Football Features

Croatia 0-0 Spain: Player ratings as La Roja win Nations League on penalties

By Ben Green

Player ratings as La Roja win Nations League on penalties copy

Published: 22:39, 18 June 2023

Spain have won the 2023 Nations League final, beating Croatia 5-4 on penalties after a tense 0-0 in the Netherlands.

It was a delicately-poised and balanced game as both sides tentatively knocked on the door and probed. Normal time couldn’t separate the sides, so the game went beyond 90 minutes to determine a winner in Rotterdam. It was ultimately settled on penalties, with Luis de la Fuente’s men coming out on top, with Dani Carvajal converting the winning spot-kick.

Here is how the players rated at De Kuip:

Croatia

Dominik Livakovic – 6 – Had a few solid moments in the game, but nearly scored an own goal early on and didn’t influence penalties.

Josip Juranovic – 7 – Muzzled and defanged Pino, who had absolutely no joy against the Croatian right-back. Ansu Fati represented an entirely different challenge when he entered the fray, and provided Juranovic a really entertaining battle.

Josip Sutalo – 7 – Threw everything at Spain’s attack and put his body on the line to try and stifle their efforts and protect Livakovic.

Martin Erlic – 6 – Put in a very solid effort, but he had a few shaky clearances. Of the two Croatian centre-backs, Sutalo was the dominant force.

Ivan Perisic – 8 – Stormed forward in his typically energetic self and looked to pepper Spain’s box with his persistent crosses. When called into action at the other end of the pitch, he blocked a Fati shot off the line, keeping his side in the game.

Marcelo Brozovic – 7 – Did not stop running and eating up grass. How the Inter midfielder still had the energy to dart across the turf after Wednesday’s semi-final and the Champions League final not too long ago is anyone’s guess. Another display that showcased his world-class athleticism and fitness.

Luka Modric – 7 – Effortless and graceful as ever, the ageless midfielder was Croatia’s major artery and heartbeat once again as he led the press and tracked back like his life depended on it.

Mateo Kovacic – 7 – Completed the formidable midfield trident of Croatia, and he too put in the hard yards and manned the engine room with merit.

Mario Pasalic – 5 – Showed glimmers of creativity and attacking threat, but he just lacked that bit of spark in the final third when the key moments came.

Luka Ivanusec – 5 – Showed enterprise and willingness, but the game needed a moment to spark it into life, and the Dinamo Zagreb man struggled to produce that on a consistent enough basis.

Andrej Kramaric – 6 – Another who played with a Herculean amount of energy and guts, but once again, that bit of inspiration was just lacking in those crunch moments.

Substitutes:

Bruno Petkovic (for Pasalic 60′) – 6 – Added a new dimension to Croatia’s attack and displayed some decent hold-up play.

Nikola Vlasic (for Ivanusec 78′) – 5 – Brought a renewed vigour, but proved far too wasteful in those key moments. He tucked his penalty away, at least.

Lovro Majer (for Kramaric 90′) – 5 – Looked lively and got stuck in, which is exactly what his manager would have wanted, though he missed his penalty.

Josip Stanisic (for Juranovic 111′) – N/A – Came on for the final 10 minutes.

Spain

Unai Simon – 9 – Kept a clean sheet in the 90 minutes and then produced a match-winning display in sudden death, saving two penalties.

Jesus Navas – 6 – Had some really strong moments and showed plenty of willingness to career forward, but Perisic was getting in behind far too often to pump balls into the box.

Robin Le Normand – 7 – Formed a solid enough partnership with Laporte without being overly spectacular. He was there to stifle Croatia’s attack, and that’s what this partnership did.

Aymeric Laporte – 8 – Titanic at times and heroic at others, notably his last-ditch tackle on Kramaric in the first half to deny the Croat forward scoring a certain goal. An absolutely world-class tackle.

Jordi Alba – 7 – Displayed plenty of industry and willingness. The now-free agent was attacking down the left flank with his usual vigour and power to try and make attacking moves happen for his nation. Even in extra time, the ageing full-back was careering forward as though it were the first minute.

Rodri – 7 – Cool, calm and collected as ever. The Treble-winning midfielder was metronomic and safeguarded his backline throughout the contest. When the game threatened to spill over and Spain were on the back foot, Rodri was there to stem the tide and bring an aura of calm.

Fabian Ruiz – 6 – Found the ball a lot and did the basics well, but lacked urgency at times to carry his team up the pitch and instigate attacking transitions.

Gavi – 6 – Showed a tremendous amount verve and panache in the first half, but that influence waned as the game went on, as Croatia’s defensive third managed to stifle his intricacy and vision.

Marco Asensio – 6 – Spain’s biggest attacking threat throughout the game, but that really isn’t saying much. La Roja were often toothless up front, but Asensio certanily tried to make things happen, and grew into the game.

Yeremy Pino – 5 – Showcased a few fleeting moments of attacking flair and skill, but Juranovic largely had the Spanish trickster in his pocket, as the hard-hitting Croat got stuck in and flexed his physicality.

Alvaro Morata – 5 – Really struggled to stamp his authority on the game, as he often cut an isolated figure up front. When Spain needed an out ball and an attacking release valve, Morata wasn’t really able to provide that bit of final-third inspiration.

Substitutes:

Ansu Fati (for Pino 45′) – 7 – A game-changer upon his introduction. Fati was easily Spain’s best attacking threat on the night, which begs the question why he wasn’t starting.

Joselu (for Morata 60′) – 5 – He was the hero earlier on in the week, but had a quiet game tonight.

Nacho (for Le Normand 78′) – 7 – Charged into every challenge and disrupted Croatia’s rhythm.

Mikel Merino (for Fabian 78′) – 6 – Brought a renewed coolness and tempo setting when he came on.

Dani Olmo (for Gavi 86′) – 6 – Made openings and created chances, but scuffed at one too many shots.

Dani Carvajal (for Navas 96′) – 7 – Came on for the final moments of the game and won his side the match with his penalty.

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