CROATIA

Modric: early Euro exit will be a "failure" for Croatia

The Croatia midfielder said his side have targeted securing a berth in the knock-out stages before they face holders Spain in final group game.

Modric: early Euro exit will be a "failure" for Croatia
JOHN SIBLEY REUTERS

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric wants his Croatia team to have secured a place in the knockout stages of Euro 2016 before they take on champions Spain in their final Group D clash.

Modric was part of the Croatia side who went out in the group stages after a defeat by Spain four years ago. He believes it would be "a failure" for this country if they did not progress this time with four of the third-placed teams going through.

Ante Cacic's men open their account against Turkey in Paris on Sunday and take on the Czech Republic five days later in Saint Etienne before the big clash with Spain in Bordeaux on June 21.

"We have a very difficult group," Modric said in an interview with Marca on Thursday. "The key will be our first game, because if we win, it would ease our path. That was not enough for Croatia four years ago. It would be a failure for us not to progress from the group stages."

At Euro 2012, Croatia won their opening game against Ireland 3-1 and drew 1-1 with Italy. But they went out of the competition after a late Jesús Navas goal in a 1-0 defeat to Spain.

Modric, who played in that match, said: "It was Spain's most difficult game of that whole tournament. We played well but we were unlucky. Spain are one of the top teams in the world. I hope that when we play Spain in our final group game, we are already through to the next round."

The midfielder made 44 appearances in all competitions to help Real finish runners-up in La Liga and win the Champions League this season. He is still looking for success with the national side.

"What I'm missing in my career is to do something big for Croatia and to win La Liga," he said.

Playing a major tournament in France brings back good memories for Modric and Croatia. The Croats lost in the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup to host nation France before beating the Netherlands to finish third.

"It was historic," Modric said. "What that team did was extraordinary. I hope returning to France brings us luck and we can repeat a similar result."