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Euro 2016: Czech Republic vs Croatia - 5 players to watch out for

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852   //    17 Jun 2016, 16:52 IST
Croatia celebrate
Croatia started their Euro 2016 campaign with an important win

The Czech Republic take on Croatia in an eagerly anticipated Group D encounter tonight in Euro 2016. The Czechs will look to break an unenviable record of having never won against the Croats in two previous encounters, having drawn once and lost once. Tonight’s encounter will see the Czechs under a greater degree of pressure since they lost their opening encounter against the defending champions Spain. Although the Czechs survived a barrage of attacks, a late goal by Gerard Pique left them short-changed in the end.

The Croatians, on the other hand, got off to a winning start courtesy a screamer from Luka Modric, which shall be right up there come the end of Euro 2016 in the goals of the tournament category. The stunning volley from the Real Madrid ace earned all points for Croatia in their opening encounter and leaves them more comfortably placed compared to the Czechs.

Let us take a look at 5 players who we think shall play a decisive role in determining the outcome of today’s match.

#1 Luka Modric

Modric after scoring against Turkey

Quite simply, one of the best pass-masters of the modern game, Modric’s goal against Turkey sealed all the points for his side. The 25-metre volley from the diminutive Croat is surely one of the goals of the tournament and showed the world what Modric brings to a team beyond passing. Croatia will want Modric to score tonight, as they have never lost a game when he has scored (Won 10 Drawn 1).

Against Turkey, Modric’s superb vision for a pass was on display again, as he completed 52 out of 57 attempted passes, 24 of which were in the final third. Modric is also an asset to have while the team is under pressure since he never shirks his defensive duties.

In their opening match, Modric made 4 interceptions and 3 clearances, impressive statistics for a predominantly attack minded player. The Real Madrid star is a well-known figure in the footballing fraternity, being a lynchpin in midfield for the Spanish side, alongside Toni Kroos of Germany.

Their combined vision and eye for a through ball have seen Real win their much coveted ‘La Decima’ or tenth Champions League title in 2013-14. They followed up the success of the 10th Champions League conquest by winning Real’s 11th in 2015-16.

30-year-old Modric made his international debut in 2006 and has gone on to represent his country 90 times. Having reached the wrong side of 30, the visionary midfielder known as ‘Cruyff of the Balkans’ will look to reciprocate his success at club level on the international stage too.    

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