Euro 2016: How Croatia's midfield can drive them to success
The most important element of a balanced football team is a strong and compact midfield. One that can provide stability to the whole team as well as an attacking presence, while shielding the defence. Going into Euro 2016, Croatia is one such team whose illustrious midfield can really shine.
Put in a group alongside teams like Spain, Turkey and the Czech Republic, Croatia won’t have an easy first couple of games and a lot of their outcomes can depend on how effective their midfield trio of Luka Modric , Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Rakitic can prove to be. Rated highly by many in the world of football, these three midfielders can make a huge difference for their country if they are able to combine in the middle of the park.
What threat do they pose individually?
Modric’s style of play needs no introduction as he has been a pivotal part of Real Madrid’s La Undecima winning squad this past season. He has the ability to play as both a central attacking midfielder as well as a defensive midfielder according to his team’s requirements. A veteran in offensive positioning of the ball, Modric has the ability to provide defence splitting passes from long distances, which can cause problems for any opposition. His ability to provide pin-point accurate passes from the outside of his foot makes his attacking prowess more unpredictable and is one of the passing midfielders in the game today.
His ability of playing as a defensive midfielder is also commendable as he is a quick reader of the game and excellent at making interceptions when the opponent team is on the break. His versatility in the centre of the park makes him one of the players to look out for in this year’s tournament.
A player with tons of stamina and loads of firepower going forward, Ivan Rakitic has already been recognised as a threat for any opposition defence in today’s footballing world after his exploits with Barcelona. Rakitic proved to be a an ideal replacement for Xavi as he provides a stability, and he brings with him an immense work rate both going forward and tracking back, taking the pressure off his midfield colleagues. He is a player who is not afraid of getting his hands dirty, and can be dangerous in the attacking third of the pitch with his eye for goal.
Nicknamed the ‘The Professor’ Kovacic will be the comparative youngster in Croatia’s midfield His footballing prowess, however growing, is still as big a threat as that of Modric and Rakitic. His versatility in being able to play at almost any midfield position makes him a very useful player for the team in numerous situations. The youngster is known for his agility with the ball and also for his impressive dribbling. Often being designated a deep playmaking role at Inter, he has proved to be efficient in combining with his forwards and scoring goals, getting a move to join Modric at Real Madrid at the start of the 2015-16 season. Despite his relative lack of experience going into the tournament, he still remains a force to be reckoned with.
What threat do they pose as a unit?
With three highly intelligent and skilful central midfielders, Croatia will be looking to make a serious run in this year’s Euros. All three of them have proven their ability with the ball and building up play and will look to feed forward Mario Mandzukic whenever possible. They are all extremely hard-working players who will keep running till the final whistle blows.
The biggest advantage they have is the fact that both Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic are proven match winners with their immense performances for Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively. With their skill, determination, and mentality, this is a midfield that can take Croatia far.