Croatia continues to make waves and punch above its weight in international soccer, finishing second and third in two consecutive World Cups, and is now preparing to face the winner of Spain and Italy in the Nations League final to try to take its first-ever international trophy. Modrić has become the leader of a fantastic generation of Croatian players who continue to exceed expectations under coach Zlatko Dalic, and the midfielder was even awarded the Golden Ball in 2018 for his outstanding achievements at that year’s World Cup, where he received a Golden Ball in addition.
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The Netherlands, who finished second to Portugal in the first final of the 2019 Nations League, tried to qualify again in front of their home crowd. They took the lead thanks to a lucky strike from Borussia Dortmund striker Donyell Malen and maintained the lead until halftime.
Shortly after the break, however, Modrić was brought down in the penalty area by Cody Gakpo. Croatian striker Andrej Kramaric stepped up to take the penalty and, with a shot to the center, tied the score. Just over fifteen minutes later, Mario Pasalic of Atalanta had an inaccurate shot on goal, but it was enough to overpower Bijlov, and Croatia gained the advantage on the enemy field.
Toward the end of regulation time, however, Croatia had more to come. Threatened with elimination, the Netherlands flooded the field with bodies in search of an equalizer. A loose ball went to Noah Lang, who scored in the 96th minute, driving the crowd into a frenzy. Holland is famous for also scoring the equalizer in compensatory time in a World Cup match against Argentina and then losing in a penalty shootout to the eventual champions.
Petkovic’s long-range shot and Modric’s penalty left the equalizer in the last minute as a postscript to the match, but Croatia knocked the Dutch out of the playoffs on their own turf. They will now await the winner of the Spain-Italy pairing, a rematch of the 2021 Nations League semifinal playoffs in which Spain snatched victory from the European champions and set up a final against France.
I already answered that question, I said my goal is to continue at the club, to stay at PSG, that’s my only option at the moment, Mbappe said at a press conference before Friday’s Euro 2024 qualifying match against Gibraltar in Portugal.
Earlier this week, Mbappesent a letter to the club, in which he confirmed that he would not use the option to stay in the French champions until 2025.
I didn’t think the letter could kill or offend anyone, Mbappe said Friday.
He told AFP he never discussed extending his contract with PSG beyond next year.
This immediately raised the prospect that the 24-year-old striker, one of the most coveted players in world soccer, would leave Parc de Prince this summer following Lionel Messi.
Mbappe said he was not surprised by speculation that PSG might expect to sell him now rather than let him leave for nothing at the end of next season.
No, not much shocks me, he said.
The French national team captain also denied interfering with the national team’s preparations, sending a letter four days before the match against Gibraltar.
I accept everything, people can talk, criticize, I understand, he said. People don’t know all the subtleties and nuances. I know why I do what I do and say what I say. There’s no problem with that.
I have responsibilities as a captain. A few noises won’t make me run away from that responsibility. It’s not in my nature to run away, he added.
Mbappe also touched on comments made by President Emmanuel Macron, who said Wednesday he would try to insist that the player stay in France.
He wants me to stay in Paris, and my goal is to stay, so we’re on the same page, Mbappe said. […]