Modric the key as Croatia show their class against Turkey

Luka Modric has just won Europe's most prestigious club competition again, the Champions League with Real Madrid.

Now it is not out of the question that he can add the biggest prize on the continent for national teams as well, at Euro 2016 with Croatia.

The gifted midfielder scored Croatia's 1-0 winner in their tournament opener against Turkey with a spectacular volley from some 25 metres.

But he was not only effective up front as he also had a key interception in his own penalty area early in the second half.

Modric, 30, was in fact all over the pitch - but mainly in midfield where he marshalled a team which - if it can live up to its potential - must been seen as a title contender.

The skill of Modric and the others like Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic or Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic is well documented.

The defence around Domagij Vida and Vedran Corluka - who refused to go despite suffering a bloody head injury early on - was rock solid allowing Turkey only one real chance.

The only slight letdown was that they didn't score more goals, with captain Dario Srna and Ivan Perisic denied by the crossbar, just to name the best opportunities.

But that made Modric's effort even more precious, as he was justly named man of the match and received plenty of praise.

"He was really our leader and scored this magical goal. Luka in this form makes the team look better and more aggressive," coach Ante Cacic said, naming Modric's performance "one of his best matches in Croatia history."

Rakitic struck a similar note, saying: "The goal was great. We need this kind of Luka, Luka in top form."

Modric himself said: "I kicked ball in perfect way. I am really happy about the goal but even more about our performance, the victory and the three points."

Croatia's confidence is very similar to that of his club Real where he has been since 2012 and matured into a key player highlighted by the Champions League crowns 2014 and 2016.

But everyone knows that Sunday's win was only the first step towards the knockout stages, with holders Spain and the Czech Republic the other opponents in the group stage.

However, the three points will add to the feeling that the team can achieve something big in France, where Croatia had their best ever showing on the big stage 18 years ago by coming third at the 1998 World Cup.

"We are really confident from the first to the last player and showed this on the pitch today. We played like a big team and I think we are a big team," Modric said.

Last update: Sun, 12/06/2016 - 21:20
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