Luka Modric and Croatia took on England in their Nations League match earlier Friday at the Stadion HNK in Rijeka, Croatia. It was a match that likely won’t be remembered too much for a variety of reasons.
For one, the stadium had no atmosphere, particularly because the match was played behind closed doors. Croatia was serving the 2nd match of a 2-game UEFA suspension for an incident back in 2015, where fans had sprayed a swastika on the pitch in Split. So, there was quite literally nobody in the stadium watching this match, though there were some England fans who were supporting from a nearby hill.
The match was rather uneventful, the commentators for the match made the audience completely aware that they too found the match very boring. Both sides really didn’t show much, though England had some decent chances in the 2nd half that they just couldn’t finish properly.
It just seems to be a waste having this friendly Nations League so soon after the World Cup and really disrupting the different ongoing leagues. And it also leads to unnecessary injuries that are ultimately going to affect domestic clubs, as we’ve already seen with Varane getting injured in France’s match recently.
Modric was probably the best player for Croatia, though that’s not really saying much because there just aren’t really any highlights. Most of the decent to good chances for both sides had poor finishing touches on them. The sloppiness of the two sides just led to a very forgettable match.
This was a rematch of the World Cup semifinal, but felt nowhere close to capturing that level of international football despite featuring most of the same players in both lineups. Adding the fact that there was no crowd in attendance and no atmosphere, this was a hard one to watch.
Croatia and England both have 1 point each, while Spain are sitting pretty with 6 points on top of Group 4. Modric said prior to this match that it was going to be strange playing in an empty stadium, and he was certainly right. Kovacic also started before being subbed out in the 73’, again not many highlights from him either.
There’s doubt that both will be dissatisfied with Croatia and probably their own play in this match. We’ll see the both of them next Thursday when they take on England again at Wembley, hopefully in a much better match in front of an actual crowd.