The playmaker, three years on from his Three Lions diatribe, has absolved Gareth Southgate’s side of hubris, drawing his ire towards the press instead
Luka Modric has called out the “arrogance” of English media ahead of Croatia’s Euro 2020 opener against the Three Lions at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, while adding that the visitors will be “realistic” in their expectations for the tournament.
Croatia travel to London for the first of their Group D clashes this weekend, in a hotly anticipated rematch of the 2018 World Cup semi-final where Zlatko Dalic’s side beat Gareth Southgate’s team in extra-time.
Three years ago, Modric launched broadsides against England following his nation’s victory, stating that the media circus surrounding them should have been more “humble” amid the resurgence of Three Lions fervour – though this time, he has been quicker to temper his comments and their target.
What has been said?
“That arrogance is not so much related to the players and to the national team but to the people around them,” the Real Madrid playmaker sought to clarify in his pre-match press conference.
“[It was or is more] some of the journalists and commentators. Recently I’ve not read many media outlets.
“I’m looking forward to the match and I don’t want to say too much about what’s on the other side.”
Modric warns against high-flying optimism
Croatia proved to be a surprise package in their run to the World Cup final in 2018, though the need for two penalty shootouts and another extra-time thriller to get them to the showpiece game was a weakness ruthlessly exposed by France at the end.
Modric has worked to keep hopes of another superlative run to a minimum, adding: “Expectations are great but we have to be realistic, go match by match.
“In big competitions, we’ve presented very good games and sometimes the nuances have prevented us from going to the top.
“Due to this we shouldn’t think we can reach the final every time, as much self-confidence and belief as we have.”
The bigger picture
Croatia head to Wembley on a run of relatively rocky form, having managed only two wins since last November against relative minnows Cyprus and Malta.
A draw with Armenia and defeat to France in their final warm-up games will not have suggested that they will be among the favourites to lift the Euro 2020 crown next month.
England however will be particularly wary of the threat Modric and his fellow players can possess, with Southgate unlikely to take them at simple face value in what will be a vital Group D opener.