Soccer-Croatia coach Dalic apologises to fans after dismal defeat by Spain

Soccer Football - Euro 2024 - Group B - Spain v Croatia - Berlin Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany - June 15, 2024 Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

LONDON (Reuters) - Coach Zlatko Dalic apologised to the tens of thousands of Croatian fans who had packed into the Olympiastadion Berlin on Saturday after his team slumped to a 3-0 defeat to Spain in their opening Euro 2024 match.

"It was a great atmosphere," the 57-year-old Dalic, who led the team to the 2018 World Cup final and semi-finals of the global tournament four years later, told a news conference.

"I apologise for this bad show today. We were not aggressive enough."

The Croatians, desperate to replicate their World Cup success of recent years at a Euro where they have never won a knockout match, were no match for Spain's clever attacking play with Dalic's game plan in disarray after about half an hour.

Dalic's players struggled to contain a rampant Spain in the first half, during which the 2008 and 2012 champions scored three times.

Croatian fans outnumbered Spain supporters in the cavernous Olympiastadion by at least 10 to one but it was the Spaniards who took the initiative from the start with a high pressing game.

The raucous atmosphere failed to lift Dalic's side and they were left chasing shadows as Spain easily piled on the pressure.

"I hope this was just a bad day," Dalic said, whose side next face Albania before taking on Italy in their final Group B game.

Looking ahead to the remaining matches, Dalic said he took Luka Modric off the pitch in the second half to give the 38-year-old captain a chance to rest.

(Reporting by Alexander Ratz)

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