Marc Cucurella had a competitive international debut to remember, as he featured throughout Spain’s brilliant 3-0 win over Croatia in their opening match of Euro 2024.

In a game that seemed deceptively even for long periods, a ruthless performance by Spain saw them make the most of their opportunities to dismiss Croatia's challenge in Berlin.

Spain lined up against Croatia with a fresh look, including only two outfield players who started their last tournament fixture, the round-of-16 World Cup defeat to Morocco 18 months ago.

One of the newcomers was Marc Cucurella, seen as the more balanced option at left-back, getting the nod for this potentially tricky opening match ahead of Bayer Leverkusen’s Alex Grimaldo to make his competitive debut, all four of his previous caps coming in friendlies. Spain were captained by ex-Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata, while former Blue Mateo Kovacic was in the Croatia team.

Cucurella did well to create a good chance for Spain to open the scoring 15 minutes in, stepping in to halt a Croatia attack and win the ball in the opposition half before releasing Lamine Yamal, but the defenders recovered to put the 16-year-old forward under pressure and he sliced his shot wide.

The Blues defender played an important role when Spain did take a 1-0 lead, starting the attack by hooking a clearance towards Rodri in the centre. The Manchester City man laid it off for Fabian Ruiz to play in Morata, who made no mistake one-on-one with the keeper. Amazingly, this is the third Euros tournament in a row that the striker has scored against Croatia.

A few minutes later they had doubled that lead, as Ruiz slalomed into the box and drove a low strike into the back of the net. Croatia were still in the game and had chances, but on the brink of half-time Dani Carvajal turned in Yamal’s cross to make it 3-0.

Croatia tried to hit back in the second half and Cucurella made one of three crucial blocks as Spain somehow kept the ball out of the net during a lengthy goal-mouth scramble, as the game continued to play out more evenly than the scoreline suggested.

He then had to intervene well to prevent Andrej Kramaric getting free in behind, but Spain looked comfortable throughout the second half with their healthy lead, despite Croatia having a goal disallowed for encroachment when Bruno Petkovic converted a penalty at the second attempt.

That means Spain get off to a confidence-building winning start and go top of Group B, for the time being at least, ahead of Italy's match against Albania this evening. There is another tough match to come next for Spain, though, as they take on the holders Italy in Gelsenkirchen on Thursday 20 June, with kick-off at 8pm UK time.