La Roja finished second in Group E to advance to the knockout round of the competition, while Croatia, who were eliminated at this stage of the 2016 tournament, claimed second position in Group D behind England.
Croatia got their Group D campaign off to the worst possible start, as a 1-0 defeat to England on June 13 left the 2018 World Cup finalists playing catch-up in the section, especially as the Czech Republic opened their tournament with a win over Scotland to join England on three points after the first gameweek.
The Blazers were then held to a 1-1 draw by the Czech Republic, which left them in a difficult spot ahead of their clash with Scotland on June 22, but a strong performance from Zlatko Dalic’s side saw them claim all three points courtesy of a 3-1 success, with Nikola Vlasic, Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic on the scoresheet.
The victory at Hampden Park actually allowed Croatia to move above the Czech Republic into second position in Group D, which has ultimately seen them handed a difficult last-16 clash with Spain.
Dalic’s team, as mentioned, reached the final of the 2018 World Cup, but their record at the European Championship is underwhelming, having failed to progress past the quarter-final stage.
Despite a strong performance against Scotland, it is difficult to imagine the Blazers seriously challenging for the trophy, as they could meet favourites France in the quarter-finals before potentially tackling Belgium, Portugal or Italy in the semi-finals, having been placed in the more difficult side of the draw.
Spain, meanwhile, produced easily their standout performance of Euro 2020 on Wednesday night, as they recorded a 5-0 victory over Slovakia to secure their spot in the round of 16.
La Roja looked to be finishing top of Group E, but Sweden scored late to beat Poland on the same evening, which allowed them to move to the summit and pushed Luis Enrique’s side into second.
Spain opened their tournament with a goalless draw against Sweden on June 14 before being held to a 1-1 draw by Poland five days later, as Robert Lewandowski cancelled out an effort from Alvaro Morata, which left the three-time winners facing the possibility of elimination in the group stage.
A five-star display against Slovakia arrived on June 23, though, with Aymeric Laporte, Pablo Sarabia and Ferran Torres on the scoresheet, while two own goals also helped Enrique’s team.
La Roja are bidding to win a fourth European Championship, which would make them the most successful team in the history of the tournament. As it stands, they are level on three trophies with Germany, having triumphed in the 1964, 2008 and 2012 editions of the famous competition.