Zvonimir Boban believes that Luka Modric is crucial to Croatia's Euro 2012 hopes ahead of their Group C clash with Italy on Thursday.
The 26-year-old was at the heart of every move as the Croatians ran out 3-1 winners over Republic of Ireland on Sunday, and Boban was quick to compare his compatriot with Italian legend Andrea Pirlo.
"Modric is Croatia's player to watch. If Pirlo is important to Italy, then I can't even begin to imagine what Croatia would do without Modric," the former AC Milan midfielder was quoted as saying by Sky Sports Italia.
"He has great vision of the game and drives the team forward, and feels the responsibility of being a leader for the team."
Boban then went on to pay tribute to Slaven Bilic's work in transforming the current national side, and offered some advice ahead of the clash against Cesare Prandelli's men.
"Bilic has been instrumental in building group harmony and spirit in recent years. Croatia did really well against the Irish. His men have arrived at Euro 2012 in excellent physical condition.
"A weakness that Italy might exploit will be Croatia's centre-back pairing of Gordon Schildenfeld and Vedran Corluka. The Azzurri will try to keep possession, so Bilic's side must make the most of counterattacks through players such as Ivan Rakitic."
The two sides will meet at 18:00CET in Poznan on Thursday.