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2022 World Cup Top Players: Croatia

Modric has Tough Act to Follow After 2018 Performance

Class Act

Between 2008 and 2021, Cristiano Ronaldo won five Ballon D’or awards. On the other hand, Lionel Messi won seven. Can you imagine being the only player able to snatch one from them during that span? Luka Modric doesn’t have to because that’s exactly what he did in 2018.

Leading Croatia to the 2018 World Cup Grand Finale had a lot to do with receiving such a prestigious award. Now, the veteran midfielder, who’s going to be 37 years old when the 2022 World Cup begins, is expected to lead the Blazers to the title. Croatia isn’t among the soccer betting online favorites to dethrone France, but Modric is used to defying the soccer odds.

Croatia's midfielder Luka Modric runs with the ball during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group D football match
Luka Modric - Stu Forster / POOL / AFP

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Club Career

Before establishing himself as a Real Madrid icon, Luka Modric triumphed in the Prva HNL (Croatia’s top division) and the English Premier League.

At home, he did it with Dinamo Zagreb from 2003 to 2008. He ended up appearing in 128 games and scoring 32 goals. He contributed to Zagreb winning three straight titles between 2005 and 2008. He also managed to win the domestic cup twice. He was named the Prva HNL Player of the Year in 2007. He was also named Croatian Footballer of the Year for the first time while playing for Zagreb in 2007.

Prior to the 2008-09 season, Tottenham Hotspur knocked on his door and offered him a multi-year contract, which he didn’t hesitate to sign. In four seasons, he played in 159 games and scored 17 goals. Scoring goals was never his main job and that’s why Real Madrid set eyes on him, especially after he was named Tottenham’s Player of the Year in the 2010-11 season.

Modric got transferred to Real Madrid prior to the 2012-13 season and the rest is history. He has never scored more than six goals in a season, but he has always set the pace of the game. With Modric in charge of the midfield, Los Blancos have won five Champions League titles, three La Liga titles and one Copa del Rey.

Individually, he has been named to the UCL Squad of the season five times. In 2013-14 and 2015-16, he was named La Liga’s Best Midfielder. Considering La Liga is considered one of the best domestic tournaments in the world, that’s a big deal.

With the Blazers

The gifted playmaker made his debut with Croatia’s senior team in 2006 in a friendly match against Argentina. That was more than enough to be named to the 23-man squad for the 2006 WC in Germany. He played in two games as a substitute.

Two years later, he was included in the 2008 Euro Team of the Tournament. He was crucial for Croatia to reach the quarterfinals, where they lost to Turkey in penalties.

In 2010, he scored three goals on the road to the WC in South Africa, but the Blazers failed to qualify. He also played in the 2012 Euro, but again, the team failed to advance to the knockout stages.

Internationally, Modric began to prove himself at the 2014 WC. Croatia didn’t make it to the Round of 16, but he played at a great level. Later, in the 2016 Euro, he became the first Croatian player two scores at the finals of two separate European Championships. That’s right, not even Davor Suker.

Following Darijo Srna’s retirement, Modric was named Croatia’s captain prior to the start of the 2018 WC Qualifiers. He ended up scoring in the playoff against Greece, helping the team to qualify for its fourth WC.

Croatia won Group D with a perfect 3-0-0 record, seven goals for and only one against. They defeated Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland. Later, they eliminated Denmark, Russia and England. Unfortunately, they lost 4-2 to France in the Grand Finale. Even so, Modric won the Golden Ball for the best player in the tournament.

Croatia in Qatar 2022

Despite finishing the 2018 edition as the runners-up, Croatia isn’t among the favorites to win the title in Qatar. The Blazers are offering a +5000 price in the sportsbook. To give you a better idea, Brazil is +450.

They’ll face Belgium, Morocco and Canada in Group F. They’re offering a +250 price to win it. Belgium is the favorite at -190. As expected, Modric isn’t among the candidates to win the Golden Boot, but he could help Ante Rebic (+12500) or Ivan Perisic (+15000) to do so.

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