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Meet the 2022/23 UEFA Nations League winners: Spain

Spain beat Croatia 5-4 on penalties in the Rotterdam final following a 0-0 draw after extra time.

Spain beat Croatia on penalties in the Nations League final
Spain beat Croatia on penalties in the Nations League final UEFA

Spain won the UEFA Nations League title for the first time following a dramatic 5-4 shoot-out win against Croatia in the 2023 final, with nothing to separate the teams during a 0-0 draw over 120 minutes in Rotterdam.

UEFA.com profiles the winners of the tournament.

As it happened: Croatia vs Spain

Meet the winners


How they lifted the trophy

Spain won the Nations League for the first time
Spain won the Nations League for the first timeGetty Images

It was an up-and-down qualifying campaign for Spain before they sealed their spot in a second consecutive finals. The 2021 runners-up struggled to build momentum in the early games, with a couple of draws followed by a narrow win in Switzerland – who then condemned La Roja to a first home defeat since 2018. However, they showed character and resilience to secure a priceless win away to Portugal, Álvaro Morata hitting the winner in the dying minutes to seal a semi-final berth.

Another late goal helped them beat Italy in the semis, Joselu's 88th-minute strike clinching a 2-1 victory. Although they were unable to beat Croatia in normal time in the final, goalkeeper Unai Simón was the hero in the penalty shoot-out, saving from Lovro Majer and Bruno Petković to allow Dani Carvajal the opportunity to slot home the winning spot kick and send his country's fans wild.

02/06/2022 Spain 1-1 Portugal
05/06/2022 Czechia 2-2 Spain 
09/06/2022 Switzerland 0-1 Spain
12/06/2022 Spain 2-0 Czechia 
24/09/2022 Spain 1-2 Switzerland 
27/09/2022 Portugal 0-1 Spain

15/06/2023 Spain 2-1 Italy
18/06/2023 Croatia 0-0 Spain (aet, Spain won 5-4 on penalties)

Spain's road to the Nations League final: Every goal

How did they play?

Luis de la Fuente's approach is perhaps more pragmatic than predecessor Luis Enrique's "everyone defends, everyone attacks" philosophy, playing to individual strengths. He opted for a 4-3-3 in his opening two games in charge – a 3-0 triumph over Norway and a 2-0 defeat in Scotland. But his approach certainly paid dividends in the finals as his side saw off Italy and Croatia to secure silverware.

Who was Spain's key player

Rodri won player of the tournament
Rodri won player of the tournamentAFP via Getty Images

Player of the Match and match winner in Manchester City's UEFA Champions League final win against Inter, Rodri was once again outstanding in midfield, and was named Player of the Tournament by UEFA's Technical Observer panel in the Netherlands.

Who was Spain's coach?

De la Fuente only took over last December but already has his first trophy as Spain coach. The likes of Gavi have been full of praise for the 61-year-old, with the youngster lauding his boss for creating a "family" atmosphere in the group. This victory will certainly do De la Fuente's reputation no harm as he now turns his focus back towards qualification for EURO 2024.

Did you know?

Gavi, who made his Spain debut in the semi-finals of the last Nations League in October 2021, became the country's youngest-ever scorer in this season's competition against Czechia aged 17 years 304 days, beating Ansu Fati's record from September 2020 by a week.

Previous Nations League winners

2021: France (Milan, Turin)
2019: Portugal (Porto, Guimarães)

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