Croatia defender Vedran Corluka believes Luka Modric’s talents boarder on the ridiculous after the Real Madrid midfielder inspired a 1-0 victory over Turkey at Euro 2016 on Sunday.
Modric’s sublime 25-yard volley four minutes before half-time was the crowning moment of a superb individual display in the opening Group D match at the Parc des Princes.
Corluka was a hero for Ante Cacic’s side in his own right, battling on with a heavily bandaged head following a first-half clash with Turkey striker Cenk Tosun.
But the 30-year-old Lokomotiv Moscow centre-back was keen to offer plaudits to Modric, who he feels copes admirably with the burden of expectation when representing his country.
“When you play with him, he’s just ridiculous,” Corluka said. “He works so much for the team in the attacking part and defensively, but you expect that from him.
“He plays at Real Madrid, he’s one of the best midfielders in Europe.
“Of course [he is under pressure]. We were just talking before the game when we saw our fans.
“It’s such a big pressure to play for your country, It’s ridiculous. He said ‘I played the final of the Champions League and I feel it’s an easy game [compared to this]’. When you play for your country people are unrealistic.
“They expect miracles from him. Of course for him he wants to do even better than for Real Madrid.
“He’s playing in Real Madrid as their second player or third player [best] with [Gareth] Bale and [Cristiano] Ronaldo, so you expect that from him.”
Corluka insists his injury will “not be an issue” for the next group outing against Czech Republic, 1-0 losers against Spain in Toulouse on Monday, while he is keen to temper expectations around a richly gifted Croatia squad – claiming they have more to be done until they can be spoken of in the same breath of their 1998 predecessors.
Croatia reached the semi-finals of the World Cup inspired by the likes of Zvonimir Boban, Davor Suker and Robert Prosinecki before losing to France and overcoming Netherlands in the third-place play-off.
“We are, a little bit, a nation who is unrealistic,” Corluka said. “So we need to calm down a little bit and go step by step because we have a good team, good players but the other teams have as well so let’s calm down. It’s just one win and nothing special.
“I say it’s the best [Croatian] team because the players play at big clubs but compared to 1998 – some players there – Boban, Prosinecki, Suker, [Aljosa] Asanovic, I think we need to [achieve] a little bit more to come to that stage.
“I remember when Prosinecki passed to Suker and he scored against Holland and we won third place. It is amazing to remember.
“I was in school but you know how is Croatia – even little kids and old people, everyone lives for football, so you can imagine how it is now these days there.”
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