England home games 'unfair' says Croatia's Modric

AFP , Saturday 12 Jun 2021

Several teams are playing their group matches on home turf due to UEFA's decision to stage the tournament across 11 cities

Luka Modric
Croatia's Luka Modric. Photo: AFP

Croatia captain Luka Modric claims England have been given an unfair advantage in Euro 2020 after all three of their group games were scheduled for Wembley.

England start their European Championship campaign against Croatia on Sunday before hosting Scotland on Friday and the Czech Republic on June 22.

Several teams are playing their group matches on home turf due to UEFA's decision to stage the tournament across 11 cities.

Italy kicked off the delayed event with a 3-0 win against Turkey in front of their own fans in Rome on Friday.

But England have a potentially decisive advantage, with two last 16 matches, both semi-finals and the final also being played at Wembley.

Real Madrid midfielder Modric is unhappy that England will have 22,500 fans at Wembley, while there are no official tickets allocated to Croatian supporters.

Asked if England have an unfair advantage, Modric told the BBC: "I think so, yes.

"Everyone would say teams at home with a crowd, that there is a slight advantage.

"It's a shame there won't be a lot of Croatia supporters because we always feel their presence when they are there.

"But it is how it is. We need to focus on the pitch and don't get bothered about the environment."

- 'Very aggressive' -

Modric was part of the Croatia team that defeated England in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals in Russia.

England have drawn and beaten Croatia in the Nations League since that meeting and Modric admits Gareth Southgate's side are a significant threat.

"I rate them very highly. For sure, they are one of the favourites for this tournament," Modric said.

"I expect an English team that will be very aggressive, very powerful from the beginning with the public at its side."

England were accused by Croatia of having an arrogant attitude ahead of the World Cup semi-final three years ago.

"That arrogance is not so much related to the players and to the national team but to the people around them. Some of the journalists and commentators," Modric said as he tried to play peacemaker.

"Recently I've not read much 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.

"Of course they will be offensive and aggressive. They are at home, in front of their journalists. They will be motivated. But we are the same."

While England are one of the tournament favourites, they could be vulnerable at the back, with Manchester United's Harry Maguire struggling to be fit in time to face Croatia.

Modric hinted Croatia would try to exploit that potential weakness as he said: "I can't go into details but we're prepared very well.

"The coach worked a lot with us about what we're going to do and what we're going to try and exploit. Tomorrow you'll see which weaknesses.

"In big competitions we've presented very good games and sometimes the nuances have prevented us from going to the top.

"Expectations are great. Our people expect a lot, we expect a lot from ourselves. We are really looking forward to the Euro and I hope we show our true self."

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