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Modric Injured; Croatia Collapse Against Czech Republic

A freakish ending to this game for Croatia

Michael Steele/Getty Images

After a rollercoaster of emotions and 100 minutes of football, the Czech Republic salvage a draw - a result that flatters them against a superior Croatia side who took an emotional beating in the last 25 minutes of this match.

Fully in control, led by Luka Modric who dictated this match from a deep role in the midfield, Croatia had seemingly put this game to bed - up two goals after 59 minutes. An opening goal in the first half from the hard-working Ivan Perisic was well deserved, and after that, Croatia coasted. They were slinging passes all over the pitch, dominating possession, and subduing an already docile and flat Czech side who not only wasn't threatening in attack, but were leaving Croatia an infinite amount of space to bring the ball up the field.

This was all capped in the 59th minute by Ivan Rakitic after Marcelo Brozovic took advantage of a defensive lapse and played a through-ball to the Barcelona midfielder.

And, while not as other-worldly as he was in Croatia's opener against Turkey, Modric was impressive. Again, he operates in that right-to-middle channel in between the defense and attack, hovering in a deep role without the ball while morphing into a counter-attack inducing machine when he receives it. At times, he looks like he plays in slow motion, but he can create space for himself and ignite attacks that others don't see, and that's part of the reason this Croatian side looked so fearsome for the majority of this match.

Even when he lost the ball, Modric was able to recover quickly to make interceptions or close players down. He's a unique player - probably the best in his position since Pirlo and Xavi.

But, in the most unlikely turn of events, Croatia collapsed. Luka Modric felt discomfort and left the match in the 2nd half. On came Mateo Kovacic - who had no real impact on the game - and everything seemed routine. The substitution seemed like a precaution more than anything - an insurance that Modric gets rest ahead of Croatia's match against Spain. On the bench, Modric looked fine. He was walking around and supporting his team without receiving treatment.

But after a couple Czech goals and pure idiocy from Croatia fans, this disastrous bit of information came out:

What a twist. Croatia looked good today, but a hellish end to this match sees them going from topping this group with six points, to going into their third match on four points without Luka Modric - against the defending champions, at that.

It's hard to understand just where things went wrong for Croatia today. It wasn't just that they were clearly in-form and playing well, but the Czech Republic looked completely out of their depth in every aspect of the pitch.

Milan Skoda came on as a substitute for the Czechs, and his presence caused the Croatia defense some uneasiness. It was Skoda who scored the Czech Republic's opening goal - a perfect header which stemmed from a Tomas Rosicky cross. Still, Croatia looked well in control.

Of course, as our man Miran Saric has outlined before, Croatia fans reared their ugly heads again and started to bombard the pitch with flairs. To be fair, it wasn't all of them - not even close. But the utter stupidity of the handful of fans that did decide to leave their mark was enough to delay this game, kill Croatia's momentum, and leave the Czech players a chance to channel the energy from their goal to make a push, which they did after scoring a penalty in the 90th minute - completing the improbable comeback.

And yet, despite dominating this match, Croatia were actually lucky not to concede a third goal as the Czechs had two corners in the 99th - yes, that's a real number - minute of the match.

Croatia should still qualify from this group. If they don't, it would be a shame for every neutral out there. They have such a respectable team, and quite frankly, too much talent to not to survive this wave.

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