The Real Madrid midfielder is a candidate to win the Golden Ball, but Vahid Halilhodzic has urged him to be more productive in front of goal
Former Dinamo Zagreb manager Vahid Halilhodzic has called on Luka Modric to deliver more for Croatia as they prepare to face England in Wednesday’s World Cup semi-final.
The two sides will lock horns in Moscow for the right to play France in Sunday’s final. Defeat, however, would mean a third-place play-off against Belgium 24 hours prior.
Modric has been at the centre of their progression to the last four, with several, including team-mate Mario Mandzukic and former Three Lions international Jermaine Jenas, believing that he could win the Golden Ball for the tournament’s best player.
Indeed, the 32-year-old scored against Nigeria and Argentina in the group stages, and laid on an assist in his side’s 2-2 draw with Russia in the quarter-finals, before scoring in the penalty shootout.
Halilhodzic, though, insists he needs to be more proactive in front of goal.
“Of course Modric is leader of this team, he is best midfielder in the world and a candidate to win Golden Ball,” he told Goal.
“But it will not be that simple, he scores too little, he should have more courage to shoot from distance.”
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Croatia have been forced to endure two successive penalty shootouts, first beating Denmark before their quarter-final victory over hosts Russia, and Halilhodzic is worried that fatigue will play a major role in the last four encounter.
“The biggest problem for the England game could be that the players are exhausted,” he added. “Look at Mario Mandzukic, he always gives 110 per cent! The key people in the Croatian team are now doctors and physios.”
Indeed, the 66-year-old, who won 15 caps for Yugoslavia during his playing days, thinks Croatia have to improve if they are to get the better of Gareth Southgate’s side, who sailed past Sweden in the last eight.
“Croatia has to play better to reach the final, they had some luck against Denmark and Russia but you can’t count on that in the semi final,” he added.
Halilhodzic believes that Zlatko Dalic’s side have already surpassed expectations by reaching the semi-final, and he believes they have the “determination” to reach the final.
“Croatia achieved a lot, with population of only 5 million, compared to 150 million Russians,” he said.
“I knew Croatia had a great team, but during the World Cup I saw in them determination to go all the way.
“And they had some luck, but that is necessary to get a big result.”