Modric throws a pass between Pedri and OyarzabalJonathan NACKSTRAND / AP

Davor Suker, the president of the Croatian federation, couldn’t stop laughing when he approached the Spanish zone an hour before the game. His namesake Luis Rubiales, the sports director, José Francisco Molina, and Luis Enrique went to his things. From what was seen, with less desire to joke. Diplomacy, offices and public relations make up the current life of the former Sevilla and Real Madrid striker. When he was seen outside the fields, the bench seemed to him a “military zone” and he did not want wars, but to smile.

In what came after, he had everything and for everyone. Smiles and tears. But what did not change was that Croatia had to be beaten many times. With Suker’s casual gesture or Modric’s sharp gaze, this selection does not give away victories, not even in its most discreet version. In the 2018 World Cup, where she was runner-up, she reached the final hanging from agony. In the round of 16 against Denmark and in the quarterfinals against Russia he went through penalties. And in the semifinals against England he did it in extra time. This time, Spain also helped a lot by plotting against itself.

Everyone’s boss, Luka Modric, harangued his people at the beginning of overtime. They felt they were flying after equalizing in the final five minutes a match that everyone had given them up for lost. And the extension started with the madridista, who just exceeds 1.70 in height, entering Pedri, who is not a pivot, like a cavalry through the air. It was a clear foul, but the action reflected the Croatian flood and Spanish distress.

The Real Madrid player, very late on the pitch, like almost all of his team for much of the afternoon, had advanced the position to consume the arrests that remained to delve into the morale of Unai Simón, who responded well after the chattering of the first goal . Croatia attacked in extra time, until Morata appeared and relieved Spain (and himself). “We had them on the ropes, but we couldn’t score with two clear chances. Then the game changed and we didn’t have the strength to go back ”, regretted Modric.

The continuous twists and turns of the duel are explained from various aspects and characters. One of them, the location of the madridista, crouched in his field until with the passage of the minutes he was climbing on the pitch. First, when he was lost, because he had no choice, and later, because he and all of Croatia had smelled blood. “When we left our field, we played better and created more chances, and that’s where the draw came from. [3-3]. We show quality and character “, valued the medium.

Possession surrendered

At first it was enough for them to wait and see what the trip to Denmark would bring. And they fell a goal like someone who falls for the Fat Christmas without knowing that he had a stake in the corner bar. One of his squires in the middle, Brozovic, was Pedri’s closest player when he gave the ball to Unai Simón. He ignored the ball as soon as the canary passed it to the goalkeeper and turned to his left to comment on something routine. The next thing he saw was the ball inside the goal.

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Croatian smiles, like Suker’s at first. They had hardly needed to execute the plan: Spain had self-mutilated. Until then Modric had had little to do. Like the one who climbs onto a balcony and starts directing his own, the 35-year-old Madridista followed the match from his vantage point. Controlling all the exits of the ball or escaping from some ambushes. Everything was arranged with subtlety and minimalism. I didn’t need more. His selection, oblivious to the ball, did not ask for more. Spain clearly won possession (67% -33%). “We took the lead with a lucky goal. Then they were better, at least for 60 minutes. We were too involved in our field and we let them play ”, warned the merengue.

When they saw each other from behind, the white half had no choice but to get out of the cave. Orsic’s 2-3 was born from a foray of his on the right to the bottom line, a torment for Spain in that section. And he already stayed upstairs, remembering his younger years.

He started extra time by overwhelming Pedri and ended it frustrated, like all of Croatia, trying to explain how such a great effort had been ruined in three minutes. When the second part of overtime began, Modric no longer had the strength for another harangue. He left with his head down in the 114th minute. Perhaps it was his last European Championship.

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