Croatia happy to be 'dark horses' again at Euro 2024, says Modric

AFP , Friday 14 Jun 2024

Luka Modric said on Friday that Croatia "don't mind being dark horses" at Euro 2024 despite consistently performing above expectations at recent major tournaments.

Croatia s midfielder #10 Luka Modric. AFP
Croatia s midfielder #10 Luka Modric. AFP

 

Zlatko Dalic's men kick off their Euro campaign against Spain in Group B at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on Saturday, as they bid to reach the knockout phase for a fifth consecutive major tournament.

Croatia made the final at the 2018 World Cup, losing to France, and then finished third in Qatar two years ago.

Despite those successes, Croatia are again not being touted as one of the favourites for the title in Germany, with France, England, the hosts and Portugal widely considered the leading contenders.

"Being the dark horses, we dont mind about that," Modric told a pre-match press conference.

"Everyone else being the favourites, us being the dark horses, we're used to that. We have to show our unity...

"We're here to make a big result. I think we've shown in last the few years we belong at the top of European football.

"In these championships we've missed the last step to make a really good result. I hope we can do that at this tournament and really do something big."

The 38-year-old Modric, who lifted his sixth Champions League title with Real Madrid earlier this month, is playing in his ninth major international tournament.

The midfielder made his tournament debut at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and was an unused substitute in Croatia's opening game of that event, a 1-0 loss to Brazil at the Olympiastadion.

"I've always believed in myself," he said. "But I've always said if someone gave me a piece of paper and said 'Write down what you want to achieve in your career', I definitely would've been afraid to write all this down. I didn't expect all this to happen.

"After all these years, though, here I am.

"I remember 2006, it was a phenomenal atmosphere in this stadium. I hope this will be the case tomorrow and on the pitch we'll give a lot to our supporters to be joyful about."

Croatia have been handed a tricky draw, with a game against reigning champions Italy in Leipzig rounding out their group campaign on June 24, after a match with Albania in Hamburg next Wednesday.

"We have the hardest group, that's a fact, everyone admits that. So, with Italy, Spain, I think that the start is important," said coach Dalic.

"We would like not to lose, but it's not our aim. We wish to show ourselves in the best light possible to make a good start.

"We would like to win, with respect to our opponents who have a great national team. Of course it will be difficult, a very demanding match, but our national team is very powerful."

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