‘It’s the worst possible match to start with’: Croatia captain Luka Modric says playing a final against England at Wembley is in their first match of Euro 2020
Luka Modric says playing England at Wembley in the opening weekend of Euro 2020 is like playing a final in the first game of a tournament.
The 35-year-old Croatia captain took his country to the 2018 World Cup final by beating England in the semi-finals, but this time would not have wanted to face Gareth Southgate so early.
England have since taken a bit of revenge for that World Cup defeat, beating Croatia 2-1 at Wembley in the Nations League, but Modric knows next Sunday is the only one that really matters.
Croatia captain says playing a final at Wembley will be like playing a final at Wembley
The Real Madrid and former Tottenham midfielder, who has won 137 caps and scored 17 goals for Croatia, said: “Our group at the European Championship is very difficult. England, Czech Republic and Scotland are good teams and it will not be easy to reach the second round.
“I’m always optimistic and I bet Croatia will come through, but it’s a very difficult first round. Playing the opening game against England and at Wembley says it all.
“It’s a real final because if you start with a defeat you can be in a very demanding position for the second game where you can’t fail if you don’t want to go home. It’s the worst possible game to start with and we know we shouldn’t make mistakes that day.
“We have to play with our style and without any pressure. If we can impose our way of playing, we can beat them, I’m sure.
Croatia defeated England at the 2018 World Cup, but lost at Wembley in the Nations League
Real Madrid star believes Croatia has the quality to progress from Group D
“I think we’re ready. We are preparing for the competitions one by one and with many video sessions. Even if you know most of the rivals well, you can always find an aspect you missed and take advantage of on the pitch. That’s what we hope to do.
England have a great team, especially in attack. People like Kane, Rashford and Sterling are good enough to beat anyone. It will be a very intense and competitive match.’
If Croatia make it through Group D, however, Modric is optimistic they can at least match what they have achieved in Russia.
He added: “I don’t see a clear favorite and I’m not ruling out Croatia. We will give everything and I feel good going into the tournament.”