Spain crowned as the 2022-23 European Champion. The new king for the next 2 years defeated Croatia in the shootouts in the final held in Netherlands.

In all, 4 matches were played within the week, two semifinals, a plate-winners’ final for 3rd position and The Final. In the first semifinal, which was also covered by us, Croatia broke the hearts of their hosts by defeating them 4 – 2 in the extra time. In the second semifinal played between European giants Italy and Spain, the amigos came out victorious against their erstwhile rivals. Today the Netherlands once again had to go through the disappointment of losing in front of their home crowd when they lost to Italy 2 – 3 in the match for the 3rd position.      

Final Overview

Croatia and Spain had played against each other four times prior to this match. Each team won twice. The Final extended into extra time, played in a tense and charged but good spirit. Both the teams adopted almost the same tactics and missed many opportunities to score though Spain had more possession, 54%, and made more attempts at Croatia goal. The goalkeepers on both sides were kept busy frequently. Both sides were shown one yellow card each in the regular time which is remarkable in such high profile matches. The extra time play started in an even more charged atmosphere with sprints and tackles and falls. Spain getting two more yellow cards in first ten minutes of the extra time is a reflection of frayed nerves. Luka Modric came close to scoring when he lost footing at the edge of the box. First half of extra time also remained goal-less, and so did the second half and the match went into decision by spot kicks. There were some unpleasant moments between players of both sides after the final whistle but it didn’t escalate. In the shootout, first attempt was made by Croatia. Croatia’s 4th shot was blocked by Spanish goalkeeper Unai. The deciding shot of the Spain’s regular five was blocked by the Croatian goalkeeper. In the sudden-death, Carvajal kept his cool to get the Gold Medal for Spain but the heart-break for Croatia.

3rd Position Overviews – Italy vs Netherlands

The Final battle between Spain and Croatia is to start at the De Kuip Stadium, Rotterdam. Both the teams have played each other four times, each winning twice.

While the fever is building for the Final, the losing semifinalists Italy and Netherlands faced each other for 3rd/4th position at the De Grolsch Veste Stadium, Enschede. For the second time in less than a week, Netherlands had to suffer the agony of losing in front of the home crowd as they went down fighting 2–3 in the plate-winners final of UEFA Nations League 2022/23.

Netherlands has the honour of hosting the Finals of the 3rd edition of UEFA Nations League, the biennial championship of European nations. Being in the semifinal themselves was a bonus and the ardent wish of the home crowd to see their team winning in front of their eyes. However, it was not to be! They lost to Croatia in the 1st semifinal 2–4. In the 2nd semifinal, Spain defeated Italy 2–1.

Netherlands have not been able to win against Italy since 2008. However, they were dominant in this contest with 61% possession. Their passing accuracy was 85% compared with 78% of Italy. They had more attempts and more shots at the goal but somehow, could not convert their chances into goals. Italy left-back Dimarco, declared Player of the Match, put them ahead in the 6th minute. A cross by Frattesi was cleverly back-heeled by Raspadori and Dimarco’s powerful left-footed strike gave Italy the lead. Italy doubled their lead in the 20th minute when Frattesi picked up a pass from Gronto and sent a low, left-footed shot into the net. At half-time, Italy were ahead by a margin of 2 – 0.

The Dutch came back into the game in 68th minute when forward Steven Bergwijn maneuvered to dodge the Italian defenders and scored through a powerful left-footed shot. Italy did not take long to restore their two goal advantage and only four minutes later, forward Federico Chiesa netted a cool side-footed shot. The desperate efforts of Dutch strikers bore fruit in the 89th minute when the mid-fielder Wijnaldum received a pass from Veerman and on second touch, he scooped the ball over the diving Italian goalkeeper into the net. Though nine minutes of injury time were added and Netherlands made desperate attempts, Italy held on to win the Bronze Medal by a score of 3 – 2.

2023 UEFA Nations League 2020: 1st Semi Final | Croatia Beat Netherlands; First Time Finalist

Losing a crucial match is bad enough, but to do so in front of the home crowd is even worse; and this is exactly what the Netherlands had to go through with, losing the first semifinal of UEFA Nations League 2022/23 at the De Kuip stadium, Rotterdam, to Croatia with a 2 – 4 score.

This is the 3rd edition of this championship between European Nations. Portugal in 2019 and France in 2021 are the previous champions.

Football – UEFA Nations League 2018: Hits & Flops

1st Semi Final Overview

Croatia were dominant in the contest though Netherlands went for halftime break with a one goal lead when Malen put Netherland ahead in 34th minute. Kramaric equalized for Croatia in 55th minute through a penalty kick. Pasalic shot Croatia into lead in 72nd minute but a timely shot from the edge by Lang in injury time enabled Netherlands to go into extra time. Petkovic gave Croatia lead in the 8th minute of first half of extra time. In the dying moments of the match, Luka Modrich cemented the result with a kick from the spot.

This is Croatia’s first appearance in the finals of a major event after their fateful encounter with France in the 2018 World Cup. They will face the winner of the Italy – Spain tie, to be held on 15th June. Netherlands will play the loser of 2nd semifinal for the 3rd position. Both matches will be played on Sunday, 18 June.

Stay tuned to Allsportspk for the updates on the concluding matches of Europe’s Football season 2022-23.