Fabián, son of Chari, silences the Croatian tide | Eurocup Germany 2024

There was a checkered wall that threatened to become unbreakable. Croatia had already shown itself as an impossible nut to crack in the Nations League final, when La Roja had to resort to penalties to beat the Balkan team. This time Croatia also had something extra to motivate Zlatko Dalić's already motivated boys: the fans. According to the Croatian press, there were almost 100,000 fans in the streets of the German capital. A flood that engulfed the center of Berlin, took over the means of transport on the way to the team's debut in the Euro Cup and silenced the Spanish crowd in the Olympic Stadium (from the start). For every La Roja fan, there were about five Croats. But neither the packed stands nor Luka Modrić's football could beat Spain. Not even Fabián Ruiz.

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Unai Simón, Dani Carvajal, Robin Le Normand, Nacho, Marc Cucurella, Fabián Ruiz, Pedri, Rodri, Lamine Yamal, Álvaro Morata, Nico Williams, Dani Olmo (Pedri, min. 58), Mikel Oyarzabal (Álvaro Morata, min. 66 ), Mikel Merino (Nico Williams, min. 67), Martín Zubimendi (Rodri, min. 85) and Ferran Torres (Lamine Yamal, min. 85)

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Dominik Livakovic, Marin Pongracic, Josko Gvardiol, Josip Sutalo, Josip Stanisic, Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic, Luka Modric, Ante Budimir, Andrej Kramaric, Lovro Majer, Ivan Perisic (Ante Budimir, min. 55), Mario Pasalic (Luka Modric, min. 64), Luka Sucic (Mateo Kovacic, min. 64) and Bruno Petkovic (Andrej Kramaric, min. 71)

Goals
1-0 min. 28: Morata. 2-0 min. 31: Fabian. 3-0 min 46: Dani Carvajal

Referee Michael Olivier

Yellow cards

Rodrigo (min. 77)

“The coach told me before he started the game that he would hit him if he had the ball. I don't know if this is the best goal of my career, but it is one of the most important,” he admitted at the end of the match, becoming one of the protagonists of the Spanish debut.

They claimed in the Croatian media that something had never happened before in Berlin: so many fans had never come to see their team. About 400,000 Croats live in Germany. A tide that is impossible to calculate, according to the press officers of the Croatian Federation. The reason for his presence in the German capital was clear: say goodbye to its greatest legend, Modrić. But the shadow of the number 10 did not scare Fabián in the center of the field, let alone the noise or flares from the Croatian fans.

Fabián is used to facing setbacks. It is essentially the story of his life. Faced with the difficulties of a modest family from Los Palacios and Villafranca (Seville), Fabián dribbled with the ball at his feet. His mother Chari Peña and his older brother helped him. “They deprived themselves of things. “I realized it when I was older,” he would confess. As soon as he arrived at the Betis quarry, other problems arose: he was too thin. But just as his mother hid her financial problems, the boy's football hid his physical weakness. Only at the age of 14 did he undergo a spectacular physical change: he grew 30 centimeters. By then, Betis had found a job for his mother as a cleaner at the club.

And he became a regular in the calls from the Red. However, he didn't quite get started at Betis: he was loaned out to Elche for a season before settling. From Betis he first jumped to Naples and then to PSG. And De la Fuente always had it in mind. He did not forget his under-19 team, that of Dani Olmo, Oyarzabal, Merino, Rodri and also Fabián. After Luis Enrique left him for the national team, De la Fuente even brought him back to his cause. “He is an exceptional player, of a great world level. If his name wasn't Fabián, you would talk about him more. We need to know what football potential we have in our country. We must appreciate this generation that has won everything. It is the representation of all the players who work in the shadows and who should have the media recognition that others have,” De la Fuente said.

The problem was that, as much as the coach trusted him, he needed game rhythm for the European Championship, something that seemed to go wrong with Luis Enrique at PSG. But again Fabián overcame the setbacks. And the coach once again mixed Rodri with Fabián, his luxury midfield partner. And if not, ask Modrić and company. Spain won the midfield battle against Croatia and Fabián silenced 50,000 Croats with an assist and a goal. The sound already came from Spain: MVP for the Red Eight and My big evening through the speakers of the Olympic Stadium. Not bad for Chari's son.

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