Luka Modric captained Croatia in their 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic today at Hampden Park in Glasgow.
The Croatia coach, Zlatko Dalic, dropped Marcelo Brozovic after a poor showing in Croatia’s first match against England. Josip Brekalo replaced him but was moved to an attacking wing position. Luka Modric dropped into the double pivot alongside Mateo Kovacic but struggled to have his usual impact. The Czech Republic attempted to man-mark him in the first half and as Modric got on the ball more in the second half, he had some uncharacteristic giveaways and sloppy passes but was crucial to Croatia’s success nonetheless.
The Czech Republic opened the match at a frantic pace. They counter-pressed Croatia and forced them into turnovers and were able to pin Croatia in their own half. The Czech Republic were given an early opportunity to cement their dominance. In the 18th minute, the Czechs put together a nice move that shifted Croatia from left to right and culminated in a square ball being played to Patrik Schick. The ball bounced up on the Czech Republic's main man and he was unable to convert.
Modric dropped between the center backs to receive the ball and move Croatia forward in possession. They adjusted to the Czech Republic's game plan and were able to possess the ball move as the half progressed. Modric was at the heart of Croatia’s best chance of the half. He took a short corner and the ball was then returned to the No. 10. Modric played a ball into stride for Ivan Perisic but the keeper saved the forward’s shot.
In the 35th minute, Schick went up for a header and was elbowed by Dejan Lovern. A penalty was awarded and the bloodied Schick stepped to the spot. He side-footed the ball into the bottom left corner to give his side the lead.
Croatia responded almost immediately. Brekalo won the ball back in the final third and played Ante Rebic through on goal. Rebic swung wildly at the ball and blasted his chance at an equalizer wide of the goal.
Brekalo and Rebic were both replaced to start the second half as Croatia looked for a much needed goal and they found it. Andrej Kramaric took a free kick quickly in midfield. He sliced the defense open and found Perisic. The Croatian forward slowly forced his defender back and to the left. Then Perisic took a quick touch inside and fired his shot into the back of the net to equalize.
Croatia upped the tempo after tying the match but the Czech Republic were still able to get forward and test the Croatian defense. The second half became more end-to-end as it progressed and both teams tried to use waves of transition to find the go-ahead goal.
Modric made a stellar challenge in the 18-yard box to thwart the Czech attack in the 65th minute. The ball took a fortunate bounce and it looked as though the Czech Republic would make it 2-1 but Modric came sliding through and cut out the danger.
Nikola Vlasic had a chance to test the Czech keeper but fired over the bar in the 73rd minute. Perisic nodded a lofted ball into the path of Vlasic but Vlasic was unable to keep his effort down. Czech substitute Adam Hlozek had a similar opportunity and the result was also similar. He blasted his volley over the crossbar.
Both teams had half-chances at the end of the match but neither were able to convert. The match finished 1-1 and Croatia have one point through two matches, putting them in a precarious position. They will need to win their next match if Croatia hope to advance to the knockout stage.
Croatia will play Scotland at Hampden Park in Glasgow on Tuesday, June 22. Kick-off is slated for 3:00 p.m. ET.