Gdansk will host its penultimate game at UEFA EURO 2012 as Croatia and Spain meet for the first time in a competitive match in their final Group C fixture.
• The teams are level on four points, Spain having followed a 1-1 draw with Italy with their record UEFA European Championship final tournment win, 4-0 against the Republic of Ireland. Croatia beat Ireland 3-1 before also drawing 1-1 with Italy.
• For Spain a draw ensures qualification; a win secures first place. If Spain draw 1-1 and Italy win 4-0, Spain would finish first ahead of Italy on coefficient. Croatia will definitely qualify, as group winners, with victory. They will also be through with any draw other than 0-0 or 1-1. If their game is scoreless and Italy win, Croatia are out. In the case of a 1-1 draw, they will only be through if Italy do not beat Ireland by 3-1 or better. If it is 1-1 and Italy win exactly 3-1, the Azzurri will be second on coefficient. Croatia can afford to lose if Italy do not win.
• Since independence, Croatia have played four games against Spain – all of them friendlies – with a record reading W1 D1 L2.
• Spain came up against plenty of Croatian players in their games against Yugoslavia which included a decisive qualifier for the 1978 FIFA World Cup finals and a tense 2-1 win for the hosts in Valencia during the 1982 finals.
• Croatia's first meeting with Spain after independence took place in Valencia on 23 March 1994, when they won 2-0 with goals from Robert Prosinečki and Davor Šuker.
• Šuker struck again when the countries next met in Seville on 5 May 1999. It took him just nine minutes to score his 40th international goal, but Spain replied through Vicente Engonga, Fernando Hierro and Dani García.
• Spain visited Croatia for the first time on 23 February 2000 to play out a goalless draw in Split. Stipe Pletikosa was in goal for the hosts.
Selected previous meetings
7 June 2006: Spain 2-1 Croatia (Pernía 61, Torres 90; Pablo og 13) – Stade de Genève, Geneva, friendly
Spain: Reina (Cañizares 46), Salgado (Sergio Ramos 46), Puyol, Pablo, Pernía, Joaquín (Fàbregas 72), Xavi Hernández (Iniesta 62), Xabi Alonso, Reyes (Luis García 46), Raúl González (Torres 46), David Villa.
Croatia: Pletikosa, N Kovač (Modrić 46), Šimunić, Tudor, Šimić (Tokić 84), Babić, Robert Kovač (Vranješ 67), J Leko, Kranjčar (I Leko 69), Klasnić (Balaban 88), Pršo (Bošnjak 74).
• The sides last met in their final friendly before the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, with Fernando Torres hitting the winner for Luis Aragonés's team in added time after earlier having a penalty saved by Pletikosa.
23 March 1994: Spain 0-2 Croatia (Prosinečki 7, Šuker 51) – Mestalla, Valencia, friendly
Spain: Zubizarreta (Lopetegui 65), Abelardo, Alkorta, Ferrer, Hierro (Guardiola 46), Otero, Nadal (Camarasa 46), Voro, Goikoetxea (Beguiristain 46), Higuera, Julio Salinas (Juanele 46).
Croatia: Ladić, Štimac (Pavličić 80), Jarni, Andrijašević (Vlaović 89), Jerkan, Bilić, Janković (Mornar 46, Miše 80), Prosinečki, Bokšić, Asanović, Šuker
• Croatia won the sides' first meeting with the scorers – Prosinečki (Real Madrid CF) and Šuker (Sevilla FC) – not the only members of the visiting side playing in the Liga at the time; Igor Štimac (Cádiz CF) and Stjepan Andrijašević (RC Celta de Vigo) were based in Spain along with Nikola Jerkan and Janko Janković (both at Real Oviedo). Current Croatia coach Slaven Bilić played all 90 minutes.
• Croatia are competing at a third successive UEFA European Championship; they have missed only one of the last five – UEFA EURO 2000.
• World and European champions Spain came into the finals on a run of 14 straight competitive victories since they surprisingly lost 1-0 to Switzerland in their opening game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals. They have not missed a major finals tournament since the 1992 UEFA European Championship.
• Real Madrid's Iker Casillas, Álvaro Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Ramos and Raúl Albiol all tasted action against GNK Dinamo Zagreb in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League group stage.
• Spain's David Silva scored Manchester City FC's opening goal in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League group stage home win against FC Bayern München. Danijel Pranjić featured in the 2-0 loss for the visitors.
• Pranjić was an unused substitute as his FC Bayern München team lost out to a Chelsea FC side containing Juan Mata and Fernando Torres in the 2012 UEFA Champions League final.
• Spain's Cesc Fàbregas scored twice as Arsenal FC enjoyed a 5-1 aggregate UEFA Champions League third qualifying round victory over Dinamo Zagreb in 2006. Eduardo scored the Croatian team's only goal of the tie while future Tottenham Hotspur FC club-mates Vedran Ćorluka and Luka Modrić were also in the Dinamo lineup.
• Fàbregas and Eduardo – the former now at FC Barcelona and the latter at FC Shakhtar Donetsk – played together at Arsenal FC from 2007 to 2010.
• Ivan Rakitić plays for Sevilla FC. He also faced Silva and Albiol as an FC Schalke 04 player, starting for the German club against Valencia CF in both matches played during 2007/08 UEFA Champions League group stage. After Valencia had posted a 1-0 win in Gelsenkirchen, the return at Mestalla ended goalless.
• Modrić played both legs of Tottenham's 2010/11 UEFA Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid CF, with Niko Kranjčar coming off the bench for his countryman in the decider. Casillas, Alonso and Ramos lined up for the home team. Ćorluka returned to the Spurs' team for the 1-0 defeat in the second leg, with Arbeloa added to the Spanish internationals in the Madrid team.
• Darijo Srna faced Víctor Valdés, Gerard Piqué, Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodríguez when Shakhtar Donetsk were defeated 5-1 by Barcelona in the first leg of the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League quarter-final, when Eduardo came on as an 82nd-minute substitute. Srna missed the 1-0 defeat in the return but Eduardo came off the bench in the 58th minute.
• Srna also captained the Ukrainian side during a 2-1 home defeat by Barcelona in the group stage of the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League. He enjoyed greater success when leading Shakhtar to a 3-2 victory at the Camp Nou on the final matchday of the group stage; Piqué and Busquets played for Barça.
• Srna was also Shakhtar captain in their 1-0 UEFA Super Cup defeat by Barcelona in 2009. Valdés, Busquets, Piqué, Xavi and Pedro, who scored the extra-time winner, played for the Spanish side.
• Ognjen Vukojević was in the FC Dynamo Kyiv team beaten twice by Barcelona (2-0 away and 2-1 in Ukraine) in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League group stage. Xavi and Pedro scored for Barcelona in the tie.
• FC Dinamo Moskva's Tomislav Dujmović spent the second half of 2011/12 on loan at Real Zaragoza, making 12 league appearances and scoring on the last of those, against Granada CF in May when he was also sent off.
• In the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-offs a Croatia team including Domagoj Vida, Milan Badelj and Ivan Perišić lost 5-1 on aggregate to Mata's Spain. The winners took the title the following summer.
• If two or more teams are equal on points on completion of the group matches, the following criteria are applied to determine the rankings:
a) Higher number of points obtained in the matches played between the teams in question;
b) Superior goal difference resulting from the matches played between the teams in question;
c) Higher number of goals scored in the matches played between the teams in question;
d) If, after having applied criteria a) to c), two teams still have an equal ranking, criteria a) to c) are reapplied exclusively to the matches between the two teams in question to determine the final rankings of the two teams. If this procedure does not lead to a decision, criteria e) to i) apply in the order given;
e) superior goal difference in all group matches;
f) higher number of goals scored in all group matches;
g) position in the UEFA national team coefficient ranking system (see annex I, paragraph 1.2.2);
h) fair play conduct of the teams (final tournament);
i) drawing of lots
• The Group C coefficients are as follows:
Republic of Ireland 28.576
• If two teams which have the same number of points, the same number of goals scored and conceded play their last group match against each other and are still equal at the end of that match, the ranking of the two teams in question is determined by kicks from the penalty mark provided no other teams within the group have the same number of points on completion of all group matches. Should more than two teams have the same number of points, the criteria listed under paragraph 8.07 apply.
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