Precisely eight years in the past, Luka Modrić proved that he belongs to the world’s elite. He might have performed higher matches at Euro 2012 earlier than that conflict between Croatia and Spain, as he did later, however that night time in Gdansk he performed for the primary time towards one of many strongest groups soccer has ever seen, exhibiting that may be opposed.
Even the truth that the superpower stood on the opposite facet shouldn’t be sufficient to deliver nearer the entire context that exhibits why Modrić’s efficiency was so nice. Particularly, Croatia and Spain performed to get to the quarterfinals, and never solely these two nationwide groups, but additionally Italy relied on that end result. So, it was a match that two giants are afraid of, so its dimension can’t be lowered to simply taking part in Croatia towards Furia.
We’ll recall what all of it appeared like, what preceded this encounter and what occurred after it.
Spain and Italy feared for the Croats
Within the late 2010s and early 2020s, the soccer world was dominated by Barcelona and Spain, which was made up principally of Barca gamers.
Blaugrana received the Champions League twice from 2009 to 2012 and was twice shut within the semi-finals, whereas Spain received the European Championship in 2008 and the World Cup in 2010. In 2012, she defended her European title.
The Croatian nationwide group had an ideal alternative to interrupt the dominance of the Purple Fury, as a result of within the third spherical of Group C of the Euro in Poland and Ukraine, they performed towards Spain to advance to the quarterfinals.
On the identical time, Italy performed towards the Republic of Eire, and the scenario on the desk earlier than these two clashes started was as follows: Spain had 4 factors, Croatia additionally 4, Italy two, whereas the Irish had been with out factors.
Clearly, Italy wanted a victory and everybody signed it up upfront. Due to this fact, public consideration was centered on the conflict between Spain and Croatia.
However these three factors weren’t sufficient for Italy, as a result of Croatia and Spain may proceed with 2: 2 or another draw with extra objectives scored. Extra exactly, solely defeat and a draw with the end result 0: Zero may undoubtedly deliver Croatia residence, as a result of the Croatians may go additional with a 1: 1 draw with the Spaniards, solely in that case Italy was not allowed to rejoice with a minimal of three objectives scored with two objectives distinction .
The Italians had been so afraid that the situation from 2004, after they had been eradicated, wouldn’t be repeated, as a result of Denmark and Sweden performed precisely 2: 2 within the final spherical of the group stage.
“I’m scared and I name on these accountable to be honest and never agree. Everybody shook their heads on the eve of the 2004 Denmark-Sweden match in Portugal, and everyone knows what occurred subsequent,” mentioned Gianluigi Buffon 90 minutes in the past.
Spain had a magical midfield, and that was an opportunity for Modric to indicate class
Big calculations and a giant fireplace solely additional elevated the stress earlier than the already necessary match for Croatia. Particular stress was felt by the then coach Slaven Bilić, who had beforehand introduced that he would go away the nationwide group after the Euros. Spain threatened him that he had solely 90 minutes left from his mandate …
Pletikosa, Vida, Ćorluka, Schildenfeld, Strinić, Vukojević, Rakitic, Modrić, Srna, Pranjić and Mandžukić performed for Croatia from the primary minute.
On the opposite facet stood Casillas, Arbeloa, Pique, Ramos, Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, David Silva, Iniesta and Torres.
It isn’t mandatory to check the distinction within the high quality of those groups, particularly the midfield the place Vukojević, Rakitic, Modric, Srna and Pranjic performed towards Busquets, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta and David Silva.
Croatia was not the one one in deficit towards such a rival, as a result of merely Spain was then the morning, day and night time of world soccer – there was no group on this planet that was simply as sturdy or stronger at the moment.
When the midfield is taken in isolation, nobody had even almost as sturdy a line because the Purple Fury. Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta throughout Barca’s dominance drove their opponents loopy with possession, after which they’d Xabi Alonso as a key Actual Madrid midfielder and David Silva, who was the English champions with Manchester Metropolis that yr and was chosen as the very best group within the Premiership.
In relation to Croatian midfielders, Vukojevic performed for Dinamo Kiev, Rakitic in Sevilla, which was then ninth in La Liga, Srna was in Shakhtar, Pranjic’s contract expired in Bayern, after which he moved to Sporting Lisbon, whereas Modric was a member of Tottenham.
Such a group wanted an ideal efficiency to attract at the very least these 1: 1 and take heed to the end result from the match between Italy and the Republic of Eire. Clearly, there was additionally a worry that Croatia could be embarrassed.
“We will be proud to be right here tonight. We are able to take pleasure in this soccer present and attempt to do what most of them, to not say all, assume is unattainable,” Igor Stimac mentioned throughout a broadcast on HRT earlier than the match.
In a single such hellish scenario, Modric put the accountability on his shoulders.
Bilic’s final sport, Modric’s conductor’s efficiency
Bilic put Modric forward of Vukojevic and Rakitic on this match with the intention of “bringing some unrest to the Spanish protection”. However how did Modric get right into a scenario to deliver unrest?
Croatia performed in a 4-2-3-1 formation the place Modrić performed “ten” and within the moments when Spain would begin “knitting” the online some 30-40 meters from the Croatian purpose, he was in search of a possibility to transition with Mandžukić.
This doesn’t imply that he was relieved of defensive duties, as a result of within the defensive part the place Croatia defended in a 4-4-2 formation, he paid essentially the most consideration to Busquets and, if mandatory, coated the passing traces very nicely between stoppers and different midfielders. Clearly, what was most required of him was that resourcefulness within the transition after profitable the ball.
The primary instance of Bilic’s thought arrived within the second minute when Rakitic minimize Silva’s go on the left facet of the Croatian penalty space and instantly discovered Modric who got here to assist shut Arbeloa’s proper again. Modrić began to counter and dragged the ball some 40 meters, after which he handed it by Busquets’ legs and thus removed Barca’s midfielder. Then he modified sides and located Srna. That counterattack didn’t finish in a menace of a purpose ultimately, however it lifted the gang to its toes and apprehensive the Spaniards.
Even then, it may very well be seen that Croatia would severely torment Spain by nice self-discipline and aggression in protection and with the transition to the offensive transition. Additionally, it was doable to guess who will play a key position in all this – Modric.
In the meantime, Spain took management and saved possession with their tiki-tak, however our nationwide group efficiently defended its purpose. The following hazard in entrance of Spain’s purpose was waited till the 25th minute, when Croatia managed to make the primary shot. Modrić related the sport once more in that assault.
First, Pletikosa shot the ball after the goal-out, and Mandžukić put it all the way down to Pranjić, who was additionally near the middle. Pranjic instantly despatched a go for Modric, who attractively left the ball to Mandzukic along with his heel and thus deceived Pique, who along with the remainder of the protection got here out excessive.
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Then Modrić entered the empty area behind Pique and pulled Arbelou behind him, after which Mandžukić returned the ball to him, which he obtained very nicely, removed Arbeloin, pressed and pushed Pranjić into the empty area. Pranjic shot from about 16 yards earlier than Ramos caught up with him, however his shot was caught by Casillas.
Solely a minute later, after Vatreni made just a few brief passes on the left facet, Modrić obtained the ball on the out-line, removed Arbeloe once more and altered the facet with an extended go for Srna. The then captain discovered Mandžukić whose shot went over the purpose.
“That is precisely what you need to play towards the Spaniards when you’ve the ball in your toes – two, three passes in a small area and transferring the ball to the facet that’s emptied,” Stimac mentioned on the time throughout the switch.
Spain was on the breaking point
The logic of this fashion of taking part in lies in the truth that the Spaniards had been urgent in a small area, particularly after shedding the ball. At that time, if the opponent manages to attach just a few brief passes, there’s a excessive likelihood that numerous Spanish gamers shall be concentrated in a small area after which altering sides is the very best resolution as a one-on-one and even two-on-one scenario is obtained.
However for such a sport, it’s essential to have gamers who will not be afraid of such urgent and at the very least one participant who “absorbs urgent”, ie who is able to dribble or deceive the physique to throw out his guard and create a surplus. Modric is such a participant.
After all, Modric didn’t play and not using a mistake. For instance, within the 41st minute he obtained the ball about 40 meters from his purpose and within the first contact he removed Xavi and Arbeloe, however was stopped by Busquets. Spain had a extra harmful assault after that and received a nook, however ultimately the whole lot went nicely for Pletikosa’s purpose.
It was 0: Zero at half time, whereas Italy was main 1: Zero towards the Republic of Eire on the second stadium, which meant that Croatia was taking part in a win or a draw with at the very least one purpose at that second.
The protagonist of this story Modrić didn’t present a lot within the first half, however of all the harmful conditions in entrance of the Spanish purpose, he didn’t take part in just one – when Mandžukić had a breakthrough after which Ramos knocked him down. The referee pointed to the nook, which the Croatian footballers protested as a result of they requested for a penalty. In the course of the remaining three harmful assaults, Modric performed a vital or key position.
Within the first 15 minutes of the second half, Croatia actually had Spain in hand. Vicente del Bosque’s group was on the ropes, and Modrić had the best credit score for that.
First, with just a few dribbles and confiscated balls, he helped Croatia to maintain possession and stress on the Spanish half, after which within the 58th minute he took the ball within the heart of the sector, kicked Ramos out of the sport and continued on to the Spanish penalty space. There he was greeted by Pique who was “sniffing”. Modrić, like a sheret, threw a “pretend” and transferred the ball to his left foot, however he didn’t hit it along with his left foot, however with the outer a part of his proper foot and located a lone Rakitic on the different finish of the Spanish penalty space. That millisecond alone killed and terrified Spain, and drove Croatia loopy. Sadly, Casillas was in the best place on the proper time. It was by far the very best likelihood of the sport up to now.
Within the 65th minute, Bilić put Perišić and Jelavić into the sport, and Pranjić and Vida left the sector. Then Srna moved to the best again, Rakitic to the best wing, and Modric returned to the central midfielder along with Vukojevic. Croatia performed in a 4-4-2 formation.
It was an indication that Croatia was justifiably beginning to take dangers as a result of it needed to rating a purpose if it wished to maintain its possibilities of qualifying for the second spherical. With 0: Zero in Gdansk and the lead of Italy towards the Republic of Eire 1: Zero was eradicated.
Italy and Spain later performed for the title
The tempo turned quicker in these moments and it was increasingly harmful in entrance of the objectives. The following scenario during which the viewers may see Modric’s greatness occurred within the 75th minute when Croatia got here into possession by taking away the ball which instantly discovered its strategy to Modric.
With none panic, Modrić threw Busquets and Xavi out of the sport with one transfer, some 40 meters from his purpose, and the Croatian followers instantly responded with a standing ovation. Then he left the ball to Rakitic who returned it to him, after which Luka modified sides and slowly got here to assist his teammates on that facet.
Some 30 seconds later, Croatia misplaced the ball, however the level of this half is that the possession lasted virtually a complete minute and that the ball was transferred to the Spanish penalty space principally due to Modric’s motion, calmness and sense of play for his group. It was not the one assault that was executed in an analogous means and during which Modrić, with a transfer and 4, 5 brief passes, helped Croatia to impose its sport towards the strongest midfield on this planet.
Three minutes later, Croatia got here out in one other counterattack by Modrić who employed Mandžukić, and this one Perišić on the opposite facet. Casillas defended the shot with one other excessive effort.
“We’ve got to search out power as a result of now we have world and European champions within the palm of our hand,” Stimac mentioned on the time.
However 0: Zero suited the Spaniards, Croatia nonetheless wanted a purpose. Bilic then despatched Eduard to the best wing and returned Rakitic to the midfield, and Vukojevic left the sector.
Within the 87th minute, after the nook, Croatia had one other nice likelihood when Ćorluka shot over the purpose, however even then we may discuss a possible penalty, as a result of Busquets pulled for the jersey of the Croatian stopper.
Already within the subsequent assault, Spain reached the purpose scored by the Navas reserve, and shortly after that, Italy additionally elevated it to 2: 0. Even then, it was 1: 1 for Croatia to go additional along with Spain, however the outcomes didn’t change.
Actual realized that Luka is a participant for the best achievements
Spain and Italy went additional and later performed the ultimate during which the Purple Fury received 4-0, defended the European title and continued their dominance of world soccer.
The world remembers the winners and finally forgets the main points, so the actual fact fades that Croatia was one step away from knocking out one of many two groups that performed the finals, that’s, it had a tough time breaking the best dominance that any nationwide group has ever managed to do.
After all, Modrić was not the one participant who offered a superb efficiency, as a result of towards the Spaniards, one participant couldn’t create so many issues and forestall even greater issues. Nevertheless, his efficiency in that encounter was a stamp on these 160 appearances at Tottenham with whom he received fourth place within the Premiership twice in 4 seasons.
It was an indication that Luka is able to go to a better stage and simply that summer time he ended up at Actual Madrid for 35 million euros. At Actual, they noticed that they might break Barca’s dominance with Modric, as a result of he was very near breaking the dominance of Spain with a a lot weaker group.
Gdansk was his handed examination for the largest stage, and through the years that adopted he exceeded expectations. He helped his membership beat Barcelona, particularly by Champions League titles, and alongside the best way he broke the dominance of the best soccer rivals of all time, Ronaldo and Messi, by profitable the Golden Ball.