Czech Republic not focused only on Croatia’s ‘brain’ Luka Modric

Britain England Croatia Euro 2020 Soccer
(Image credit: Laurence Griffiths)

Czech Republic defender Ondrej Celustka feels the team must not allow their only focus to be shackling the ‘brain’ of the Croatia side Luka Modric when the countries face off at Hampden Park on Friday.

Croatia will be out to produce a response following a 1-0 defeat by England at Wembley in their opening Euro 2020 Group D match, while the Czechs could secure a place in the knockout stage with victory after beating Scotland on Monday.

It remains to be seen who will play alongside Modric at the heart of the midfield, with Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic pressing for another start in an attacking formation as Croatia look set to go on the offensive.

While everything might appear to flow through Real Madrid man Modric, named the FIFA men’s player of the year in 2018 having guided his country to the World Cup final, Celustka knows Croatia have threats all over the pitch.

“Luka Modric is the brain of their play,” said the Sparta Prague defender.

“He will get a lot of ball and try to get loose from the players marking him, but it is not only about him.

“We have seen the other offensive footballers and all of them are at a very high level.”

Celustka added at a press conference, reported on “We need to close them down well, have a tight field and do all the defensive work responsibly.

“If we build on our display against Scotland, we have a chance also against Croatia.”

The Czech squad headed back to Prague following Monday’s win, when a double from Patrik Schick – including a stunning second from long range – silenced the Tartan Army.

Despite impressing at Hampden, Czech Republic coach Jaroslav Silhavy said his men still have work to do to get out of the group.

“Croatia have players who like playing the ball, combine and build up attacks from the back. If they have their good day, they will be very tough opponents for us,” Silhavy said.

“I still consider them among two favourites of our group and we are the third ones behind.”

Silhavy added: “Our desire is clear – we want to qualify from the group. A point out of two games might be enough, but we do not want to play for a draw.

“Croatia were runners-up in the World Cup with top-quality individuals from big clubs. If we want to succeed, we need another excellent team performance with some extra bits. This is the only way to win.”

Croatia defender Dejan Lovren is hopeful of being available following a knee problem but Rangers left-back Borna Barisic will not be available as he continues to manage a persistent back problem.

Even with so much being on the line for both teams, Croatia midfielder Nikola Vlasic expects the Czechs will not be out to just settle for a draw.

“The Czech Republic will also go for a win, despite winning their first match,” Vlasic said at a press conference.

“This is the Euros – you want to win every match and you want to prove yourself.

“It is very important to win this game as it is extremely difficult to go into the last match knowing you have to win. I think we have quality and that we will show that.”

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