Monday 5 December 2016

Modric magic underlines Croatia's credentials

Turkey 1-0 Croatia

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Published 13/06/2016 | 02:30

Croatia's midfielder Luka Modric scores his team's first goal during the match between Turkey and Croatia. Photo: Francisco Leong/Getty Images
Croatia's midfielder Luka Modric scores his team's first goal during the match between Turkey and Croatia. Photo: Francisco Leong/Getty Images

Croatia went out at the group stage in their last two tournaments, but already it is almost impossible to see them doing that again this time.

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There will be no 1-0 wins more one-sided than this during Euro 2016 and closer games that are won by more comfortable scorelines.

Luka Modric of Croatia celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the match between Turkey and Croatia. Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
Luka Modric of Croatia celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the match between Turkey and Croatia. Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

On another day, Croatia would have scored five goals at the Parc des Princes, and every time they attacked in the second half they looked like scoring.

With Dario Srna, Marcelo Brozovic and Ivan Perisic in wide areas they had a direct threat that Turkey simply could not live with.

And at the heart of it all was Luka Modric, surely the best midfielder playing at this competition and the most compelling reason - but not the only one - why Croatia can hope to be playing deep into the tournament's second half.

Just as he does for Real Madrid, Modric was at the heart of everything good that Croatia did, somehow always half a step ahead of everyone else on the pitch. He scored the only goal, with a brilliant 25-yard volley of a dipping ball just before the break.

Croatia's defender Vedran Corluka vies for the ball during the match between Turkey and Croatia. Photo: Francisco Leong/Getty Images
Croatia's defender Vedran Corluka vies for the ball during the match between Turkey and Croatia. Photo: Francisco Leong/Getty Images

It was a goal that, of all the players on the pitch, only he would have the imagination, the audacity and the technical skill to execute.

The fact that Croatia managed to convert only one of their many chances meant that Turkey were always still in the contest. And yet despite that, and despite the efforts of their players and the roared support of their fans, they offered very little.

The best moments came when Croatia attacked down the sides, with Srna's and Perisic's crossing creating some openings.

But ultimately it was a game that needed to be broken open by a moment of quality, and who better to provide it than Modric?

Croatia's midfielder Luka Modric vies for the ball against Turkey's forward Emre Mor during the match between Turkey and Croatia. Photo: Philippe Lopez/Getty Images
Croatia's midfielder Luka Modric vies for the ball against Turkey's forward Emre Mor during the match between Turkey and Croatia. Photo: Philippe Lopez/Getty Images

There were three minutes left of the first half when Ivan Rakitic swung in a cross from the left which Selcuk Inan volley away.

Modric was lurking a long way from goal but as soon as he saw the flight of the ball he knew what to do. Running forward, knowing just where the ball would drop, Modric left the ground to volley it perfectly back towards goal.

Volkan Babacan did not expect a hit that good, and the ball skipped off the pitch just in front of him and flew into the corner of the net.

It was a brilliant piece of technique, a harder goal to score than Dimitri Payet's stunning opener in the Stade de France on Friday.

Independent News Service

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