Some nervy moments then but a goal in the latter stages confirmed Spain’s progress into the knockout stages – and perhaps importantly as group winners – whilst Croatia miss out by virtue of Italy’s 2-0 win over Ireland.
Spain’s total of ten was their lowest in terms of scoring chances (after recording 11 against Italy and 23 against Ireland) but Croatia only had five scoring chances, yet will rue missed opportunities to have taken the lead.
For those that follow the blog regularly you will be familiar with what we here have coined ‘Scoring Chance Index' (or ‘SCI'): essentially a model we have developed to try and better understand and measure scoring chances in football. A full breakdown of SCI can be found at this introductory post.
Through their three games so far they out-chanced their opponents by a total of 44-17 (11-9 v Italy, 23-3 v Ireland and 10-5 v Croatia) and the individual totals are as follows:
A couple of observations:
- The fact that Xavi with four scoring chances was Spain's highest individual leader shows the extent to which Croatia held the Spanish at bay for the most part (perhaps until Croatia were forced to open up knowing Italy were leading).
- The impact of substitutions was shown by the high numbers from Jesus Navas and Cesc Fabregas, both introduced as second half substitutes and it was Navas who got the important goal.
- Luka Modric had an impressive evening and his three scoring chances were Croatia's highest outside of Pletykosa. Perhaps were Croatia fell short was illustrated in the numbers of their other attacking players and they were unable to pressure Spain for prolonged periods.