Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic are the best central midfield pairing at the 2018 World Cup according to experienced Croatia defender Vedran Corluka.
Real Madrid playmaker Modric and his Barcelona counterpart Rakitic have resumed their alliance for the national team to fine effect in Russia, with both scoring second-half goals as Argentina were thumped 3-0 on Thursday.
On the back of a 2-0 win over Nigeria that the duo controlled effortlessly, it meant Croatia’s progress to the knockouts stages for their first time since their famous run to the 1998 semi-finals was secured with a game to spare.
“They are playing in the biggest clubs and I think these are their best performances for Croatia during a major tournament,” said Corluka, who will win his 100th cap against Iceland in Rostov this Tuesday as head coach Zlatko Dalic shuffles his pack.
“Maybe I am a bit biased because I am Croatian but, yes, I think they are the best midfield pairing at this tournament. I hope they will continue the same way and lead us as far as possible.”
Winger Ivan Perisic also lauded Croatia’s wealth of midfield talent, which was anchored by his Inter team-mate Marcelo Brozovic against the bereft Argentinians, while Real Madrid’s Mateo Kovacic was only introduced as a late substitute.
“Everyone knows our midfield players have big roles in the big Europe’s biggest clubs,” Perisic said.
“They are obviously world class. They are playing well at this tournament and we all need to continue doing the same thing from now on.”
Croatia made similarly impressive progress from their group at Euro 2016 before coming unstuck against eventual winners Portugal – Ricardo Quaresma scoring the only goal of a dour last-16 encounter in extra time.
Perisic hopes things will be different this time around for a talent-rich generation approaching probably their final collective shot at glory.
“For most players this is their fourth major tournament in a row,” he added. “In France we played really well.
“We were a little bit unlucky against Portugal and I hope our luck will turn around in Russia.”