The heart of Croatia – Faro de Vigo

Modric, during training yesterday. | // EFE

There are two Modrics in one Modric. The Madrid player is a type of creative, intelligent, cunning, but caring player, at the service of others. For years he was the messenger for Cristiano Ronaldo. Now it is from Benzema. But when he dons the Croatian checkerboard shirt, that creative, smart and cunning diminutive midfielder becomes the emotional leader of a country hell-bent on not abandoning the paradise he discovered three years ago in Russia. It is a matter of time before that selection is over. After the 2018 World Cup, Rakitic, for example, resigned to continue, but Lukita, as Real Madrid calls him, still has the legs and energy to continue.

Nothing has rested in this Euro Cup where that double Modric has been discovered, again, as Luis Enrique himself stressed. “Here he can be a midfielder or a second striker to appear on the edge of the area and score a goal,” recalled the Spanish coach as if he were drawing in his memory that phenomenal goal with the outside of his right boot turning a shot into a work of art. Mateo Kovacic, “the other most talented player in Croatia”, according to the Spaniard, can always say, and with good reason, that he assisted Modric. Better placed than anyone, the Chelsea midfielder saw that technical action, described by UEFA with three words: “technique, precision and calm”. Modric never lacked technique. Neither does precision. And even less calm, although under that hieratic aspect that his face reveals a deeply passionate type hides, with the tear appearing at all times, as seen when his colleagues congratulated him on his 35th birthday (he will turn 36 in September) or when the match ended at Hampden Park in Glasgow.

More suffered than the final result indicates (3-1). Even more so because until the delicate and, at the same time, powerful shot with the exterior of Modrid did not appear, everything was under suspicion. Even him. “We were not satisfied after the first two games because we knew we could do better. My goal helped, but the most important thing is the win. Playing like this we are dangerous for everyone, “said Modric, admitting, yes, that this goal to Scotland” meant a lot “to him.

Croatia is not understood without Modric and more so now that it has lost Perisic, another of its great offensive weapons, infected with coronavirus. “It was a shock, a hard blow for us,” confessed Dalic, the Croatian coach, forced to urgently find alternatives for a last minute absence that has broken all plans. Although as long as he has Lukita – midfielder, second striker, false forward, inside … – he will have hope. Pampered and protected by Kovacic and Brozovic, who act as his bodyguards, Modric plays happily, transformed into the intergenerational leader of Croatia.