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World Cup Qualifying: Spain cruise; Croatia in trouble

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Modric has a disappointing result against Finland; while Isco, Ramos, and Asensio feature in Spain’s dominant win

Spain v Albania - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The Managing Madrid crew was spread thin on international coverage today (but, you do absolutely need to read Sam Sharpe’s article about Fede Valverde, Tommy K’s deep-dive into comparing this season’s start to past seasons, and, if you’re really desperate, my mailbag), so we don’t have a thorough, tactical breakdown of the Spain and Croatia games — but we do have the essentials for you:

Luka Modric played 90 minutes in Croatia’s 1-1 draw with Finland, which sees the Croatian National Team drop to second-place in Group I after Iceland beat Turkey 3-0.

There is just one match remaining — a must-win clash against third-place Ukraine. This is a much more uncomfortable scenario for Croatia than it should’ve been, given that they were top-spot before today’s matches. But considering Ukraine only beat Kosovo 2-0 today (anything more would’ve given Ukraine the goal-differential edge), Croatia can consider themselves lucky.

In much more important news, Modric welcomed his third child this week — the same week that he earned his 100th cap.

"This is a very emotional week for me, considering the birth of my third child, daughter Sofija, and the 100th cap for Croatia," Modric said. "That makes me very happy and proud.

"To be honest, I have never expected to reach this number, my dream was only to play for Croatia at least once.

"This landmark is beyond all expectations. Let us hope for a positive outcome to complete this week.

"We are aware of the situation in our group, aware of the expectations, and we know what we have to do to reach Russia.

"I believe we'll put in a quality performance in both matches, that we will be tough, focused and play even better than in previous matches. Quality is on our side, but we need to present it on the field of play."


Spain, meanwhile, continue to blitz teams. Goals from our boy Isco, my boy Rodrigo, and Thiago, gave them the 3-0 win over Albania, and has them heading comfortably into a World Cup tournament they had already qualified for.

Sergio Ramos played the full 90, while Asensio came on as a substitute in the 74th minute.