Croatia are arguably one of the underdogs at this summer’s World Cup in Russia. That is not meant in any disrespect of course – they are certainly a top quality side – but few would have backed them to go on and win the tournament. Then again, they have made it to the quarter-finals after their penalty shootout victory over Denmark, and find themselves with a tricky but winnable tie against hosts Russia in the next round. Victory there would see them move to the semi-final stage, matching their heroics of the competition in France 20 years ago when they were losing semi-finalists, ultimately going on to earn a third place finish. With a midfield as compact and accurate as theirs, they are clearly a team capable of beating anyone on any given day.
Croatia are a team who seem to quietly get it largely right all over the park, truth be told. There doesn’t seem to be too much of a weak area of the team, but few would argue that their midfielders are among the finest in the whole competition. Milan Badelj has done as well as one would have hoped from the former Fiorentina captain. Having replaced the late Davide Astori as club captain, Badelj’s contract expired at the Franchi and he is seeking a new club, satisfyingly with Milan among the favourites to sign him. Alongside Badelj, Barcelona star Ivan Rakitić has continued to cement his status as a player of real quality and reliability. He provided an assist in the 3-0 win over Argentina earlier in the tournament, and anyone will fancy them with him in the team.
The accolade for the best midfielder of the week on this occasion, however, goes to his compatriot Luka Modric. The former Tottenham star is a popular figure at the Santiago Bernabeu where he turns it on just about every week for Real Madrid, and this summer’s World Cup has seen him earning plaudits from neutrals the whole world over. He has managed two goals so far at an average of just over one goal in every two games, and with a decent 57% shots on target ratio he will consistently threaten opposing goalkeepers be it from distance or within the penalty area.
The Croatian captain is approaching 120 caps for the side, and that experience is something that will surely rub off on some of the younger talent in Zlatko Dalić’s side. Players such as defenders Duje Ćaleta-Car (21 years old) and Tin Jedvaj (22 years old) can only benefit from having a player like Modric around the camp. With experience, talent, quality, skill and dedication he is a real role model on the pitch for fans and players alike, and so he is the worthy recipient of this week’s best midfielder gong.
Do you know your international players better than the next man? Prove it with World Cup fantasy football here!