Luka Modric has been the engine that has propelled Croatia all the way to the final of the Nations League on Sunday, where they will face a Spain squad that he is intimately familiar with and might win their first-ever major prize.
As of this month, the 37-year-old veteran midfielder has one month left on his contract with Real Madrid, which raises questions about his future in both international football and at the club level with Real Madrid.
Prior to resolving them, Croatia captain Luka Modric has set his sights on bringing glory to his nation, which has a population of barely four million people, in Rotterdam at De Kuip.
Beginning with their third-place result at the World Cup in 1998, the nation from the Balkans has repeatedly outperformed expectations on the international scene over the previous 25 years.
After that, they advanced to the final of the 2018 World Cup, where they were ultimately defeated by France. The following year, they competed in Qatar and again ended in third place, this time after knocking off tournament favorites Brazil.
“We have once again become a powerhouse in football, showing that despite all of our problems, we have quality and character,” remarked Zlatko Dalic, the head coach of Croatia.
“It is important for us to maintain our composure and use sound judgment as we make our way toward that gold. That’s one of my biggest hopes… “bronze, silver, and gold,” respectively.
On Thursday, Modric’s match against the Netherlands was the 165th time he has represented his country in an international competition. Modric made his debut for his country’s national team in 2006.
He made the correct kick from the penalty spot to help send Croatia into the final of the Nations League with a 4-2 victory in extra time, bringing them one step closer to that coveted “gold.”
The master of the midfield pulled the strings for his nation, defeating Frenkie de Jong of Barcelona, but Rodri of Manchester City will give an even tougher challenge in the upcoming match.
The hero of City’s Champions League final is a crucial component for Luis de la Fuente’s La Roja, who are still getting their bearings under de la Fuente.
The fury around Spain was soothed by Joselu’s late goal that helped them overcome Italy in Enschede, and now they have a chance to end a trophy drought that has lasted for almost a decade, with their most recent victory coming in Euro 2012.
A few of months after they upset Croatia in a thrilling 5-3 victory to reach the semi-finals of the Euro 2020 tournament, they fell to France in the final of the 2021 Nations League. Luis Enrique was their coach for both of these competitions.
Spain will not underestimate Croatia or Modric despite the fact that they have a more illustrious past on paper owing to their victories in 2008 and 2012 at the European Championships as well as the World Cup in 2010, as well as having a larger player pool from which to choose.
“Luka Modric is another example of a sportsman, a player that at his age still has that hunger and ambition to win things, and he’s never tired of it,” said Joselu. “He’s never tired of it because he never gets tired of doing it.”
“He should serve as a model for all of the young people out there, and he is yet another indication that age is irrelevant.”
There have been rumors that Modric may step down from his role as an international player following the conclusion of the Nations League, but the player has stated that he will make a decision on his future after the competition.
“I always enjoy playing for the national team, and it’s not because it could be my last competition or my last match,” stated Modric. “I always enjoy playing for the national team.”
“Each and every match, as well as every training session, is a pleasure. As long as I believe that I am able to contribute in some way, there is no reason for me to not be here.
A successful finish in the Nations League might be used as a soaring capstone to a storied career or as a launching pad for an attack on the Euro 2024 tournament the following summer.
The fact that Modric was able to play for 119 minutes against the Netherlands in the semi-finals demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is physically capable of competing at the highest level.
According to Dalic, “Luka is one of a kind and cannot be replicated anywhere in the world; he is a legend wherever he goes.”
When he was taken off the field, he was met with a standing ovation from everyone in the crowd.
It took Croatia until the extra period of time to win, just like it did when they played Brazil and Japan in Qatar, as well as England, Russia, and Denmark in 2018.
Due to Joselu’s goal on Thursday, Spain were able to avoid playing a match that would have lasted more than 120 minutes. In previous years, Spain have participated in a number of games that lasted longer than that.
Despite having one less day of rest than Croatia, De la Fuente had high hopes that his team will be ready to compete in the championship match on Sunday.
“Extra time wears you down but with a win you recover more easily,” the coach of Spain stated. “Extra time”
Despite the fact that this set of athletes has participated in a huge number of contests, I have a positive outlook.
On Sunday afternoon, the Netherlands will play home to the third-place play-off match, which Italy will participate in.