Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric looks set for a period on the sidelines after withdrawing early from Croatia’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy last night.
The playmaker started his country’s crucial away clash at the San Siro but was forced off after just 25 minutes. The most worrying aspect of the injury for the Real Madrid talisman was that it came without any direct contact with Modric seemingly going down unchallenged as Ciro Immobile ran past him. The extent of the injury is still not known but Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping that the Croatian, who has been a key figure in steering Real to the summit of La Liga, hasn’t suffered any serious damage.
Even without Modric Croatia looked the better side last night and nearly grabbed the winner 3 minutes from time when Ivan Perisic could not find the target with his angled drive across the face of goal. Italy took the lead against the run of play when Antonio Candreva’s shot from outside the box found the bottom corner to give Conte’s men the lead after a period of domination by Croatia. The unusually shaky Gianluigi Buffon gifted the equalizer when he allowed a harmless Ivan Perisic drive to squirm under his body. Croatia were clearly the better side in the second half with Modric’s replacement Mateo Kovacic pulling the strings from midfield. Play had to be interrupted for about 10 minutes when Croatia fans threw flares on the pitch. After resumption, Italy looked energized but could not find the breakthrough needed and had to settle for an undeserved point.
Antonio Conte admitted in his post-match press conference that Croatia were the better side and felt the draw was a good result in the present circumstances.
“It’s a step forward. It wasn’t easy against a team that is in better shape, has been together for a long time, with more experience and great quality ,” Conte told Rai Sport.
“This team has the desire to improve and fight for every ball. We can improve, of course, but the hunger is there. I also thank the fans for coming to San Siro in such numbers.”
Croatia manager Niko Kovac was visibly impressed with his players and particularly singled out Kovacic who deputized admirably for the injured Modric.
“For 90 minutes we controlled the game. Italy defended well, but with Olic and Perisic we could’ve got the winner for three points. Our performance was good, we have 10 points, I really liked Kovacic and am very happy with Rakitic.”
“It wasn’t easy when Modric got injured. We do not know the extent of his injury. He’ll have to see the doctor, we’ll know more tomorrow or the day after.”
Modric and co sit level on 10 points with Italy at the top of the table in Group H following this draw.