‘We were empty, physically and emotionally’: Luka Modric blames World Cup fatigue for Croatia’s stuttering start to Nations League
- Luka Modric believes Croatia lacked time to recharge from the World Cup
- Croats beat England in the semi-final to reach a maiden World Cup final
- They were beaten by Spain 6-0 and drew with England in Nations League
Ian Herbert For Mailonline
Croatia’s Luca Modric has blamed the ’emotion’ of beating England to reach the World Cup final for the team’s failure to ignite in their Nations League campaign.
The side who beat England 2-1 in Moscow’s heart-breaking semi-final have been thumped 6-0 by Spain and were held to a goalless draw by Gareth Southgate’s players, who they face at Wembley on Sunday.
But Modric said things will be different from now on, with the return tie against the Spanish on Thursday night in front of a sell-out 30,000 crowd at Dinamo Zagreb’s ground in the Croatian capital.
Luka Modric has blamed the ’emotion’ of beating England for Croatia’s poor Nations League
Croatia face Spain on Thursday night looking to keep their campaign alive
The world player of the year said: ‘It was a historical success this summer and we didn’t have much time to recharge. We were empty, physically and emotionally.
‘We also had big games after the World Cup and we were feeling a bit empty. Now we are in a much better position.’
Modric and Ivan Rakitic are again at the hub of a team who could potentially relegate England to League B by beating them at Wembley on Sunday.
Southgate’s side need Croatia to draw or win and then must defeat them in London to reach the last four of this competition.
Modric played a starring role as Croatia reached their first World Cup final in Russia
Mario Mandzukic celebrates scoring the winning goal in the semi-final against England
Modric looked intense.
He is is fiercely patriotic and refused to answer any questions in Spanish at Wednesday afternoon’s press conference, despite commanding a good grasp of Spanish.
He rejected his team-mate Dejan Lovren’s criticism of Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos, for ending Mohammed Salah’s European Cup final.
Modric said of Ramos: ‘He has shown now a lot of times that he is a big player. He has not paid a lot of attention to his critics.
‘Whatever Lovren has said is his own opinion. I would not like to comment on someone else’s opinion.’
Croatia manager Zlatko Daljc is bringing some of the next generation of Croatia stars, with Wolfsburg striker Josip Brekalo due to make his debut on Thursday night.
Croatia have had a dismal Nations League so far and were thrashed 6-0 by Spain in September