Al Dayen, Qatar — when luka modric made his international debut for Croatia In March 2006, at the age of 21, Argentina and a 19 year old Lionel Messi He had his opponents. That day, Modric won the friendly 3–2, Messi scored his first international goal and it was the start of a career-long rivalry for club (Real Madrid vs. Barcelona) and country.
Little did Modrić know that 16 years later his world Cup career (and possibly his international career) would end at the hands of the same player and opposition a 3–0 semi-final defeatTea. Even if he plays against someone in the third-place playoff on Saturday France either MoroccoHis last big moment on soccer’s grandest stage – 2018 finalists against France and semi-finalists in Qatar – was actually his 161st cap on Tuesday night at the iconic Lusail Stadium.
Despite a solid start against Argentina, including a lovely nutmeg Alexis McAllister After 30 minutes, Messi and Julián Alvarez made it very difficult for Croatia to recover, scoring in a five-minute spell before half-time. Modric didn’t have the perfect off day, but at 37, he can’t always work his magic.
To qualify for another final, the Croatia needed to be at its absolute best: to control everything like it usually does, being accurate at set pieces, creating chances and bringing fluidity to the game. But this was not the case and his supporting cast was also very low.
The Argentines and their four central midfielders made Modric mediocre at times. Constantly under pressure on the ball, he made several poor decisions after Argentina’s first goal and failed to make the desired impact on the game.
With an 86% passing accuracy, he completed 67 passes (despite 93 touches), with only five coming in Argentina’s final third in 81 minutes on the pitch – his lowest figures at this World Cup. by comparison, against Brazil In the quarterfinals, Modric had 22 passes in the final third and even though he played 40 minutes more against Neymar & Co., his impact on the game against Argentina was not comparable.
Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic wants Modric to play for the national team until Euro 2024 in Germany, but the midfielder’s body language at the end of the game was anything to go by. When he came in with 10 minutes to go, there was a prolonged applause from the crowd, but his long goodbye – waving to the Croatia fans and hugging each of his teammates – felt like it was his last big game. It was his country.
The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner may yet be persuaded to prolong his international career to lead the team in 18 months’ time, after Dalic said: “We have a great team and this generation Will end her career at Euro 2024.” But although he is considering what to do next summer with Croatia in the Nations League final, it may not be the best idea.
Either way, it’s been an amazing ride. Modric takes Croatia’s golden generation to new heights, equals (perhaps surpasses) the Davar Suker/Aljosa Asanovic-era team that made it to the World Cup semi-finals in 1998 and makes fans proud of their team again . And this is an extraordinary achievement for a country of just 39 lakh people.
Modric certainly wasn’t alone, and this World Cup could be the end of the road for him too Ivan Perisic (34 in February), dejan lauren (33) and Domgoj Vida (33.) But Marcelo Brozovic (30), Lady Kramrick (31) and Mateo Kovacic (28) will continue and there is hope for the future with a new generation joining lovro major (24), josco guardiol (20) and luka susic (20.)
With little resources and against all odds, this Croatia side has managed to achieve incredible heights without ever reaching the summit. With Messi and Argentina shattering their dreams of a second successive World Cup final, it may take some time for them to get back on top again without their leading lights.
Modric’s international career began against Argentina and could well end against them. The midfielder played with so much flair that he almost felt Argentine at times, like Juan Roman Riquelme or Ariel Ortega. He graced the World Cup with his skill, vision and delivery and his talent will be sorely missed in 2026.