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Magical Modric trumps Barcelona flop Arda in Clasico clash

11:08 PM GMT+8 12/06/2016
Luka Modric
The Real Madrid midfielder won the Champions League before linking up with his international teammates and demonstrated to his Barcelona rival the importance of regular game momentum


Arda Turan managed just about 800 minutes for Barcelona during their victorious la Liga season and now it shows. A bit-part player for his club, he was little better than that today.

The Turkey captain was described by his coach Fatih Terim as still belonging to his "gold squad" but his performance in the defeat to Croatia in the opening Group D match of Euro 2016 showed he is a long way from the gold standard.

Instead it was left to his Clasico rival - Real Madrid's Luka Modric - to settle the game with a moment of outstanding quality. The 30-year-old midfielder is the heartbeat for club and country and demonstrated here to Arda the importance of continuous, regular football at the top level.

"First of all I have to apologise because of my poor performance today," the Barca man told TRT after the game. "I think I played badly. The tournament isn't finished yet but we have to pull ourselves together after this defeat. I hope we can perform better in Nice against Spain."

Quality cannot be simply switched off and on and despite Arda's pedigree, Terim had no qualms about replacing him with Burak Yilmaz early in the second half. That move spoke volumes about the fringe role he played in the match and gives Terim a major headache ahead of the Spain match on Friday.

Arda is already at a low ebb - and faces intense criticism every week in the Spanish press - and Terim might be tempted to pull him from the firing line. He is Turkey's all-star but their fluency is disrupted currently despite a near 18-month unbeaten run in the lead up to the tournament here.

Contrast that to Modric - the emperor of the Croatian midfield who is rapidly assuring himself of his place as the greatest central midfielder in the world having also won the Champions League with his club. While a better goalkeeper than Volkan Babacan might well have saved his first-half volley, there is no doubting the quality of the strike. Modric does not score many but this was worth waiting for. He met Selcuk Inan's awkward clearance on the full and the technique alone carried it past the Turkey goalkeeper and into the net.

"I'm feeling good," Modric said afterwards. "And the Champions League we have won gave us confidence ahead of the Euros. We're very happy for this triumph, it's a great step but there are two more matches yet. We have to maintain this rhythm."

Croatia deserved to win for a display and in truth they were barley agitated by Turkey throughout. Terim's hunt for a solution to the centre forward problem goes on and only Ozan Tufan's header in the first half gave the Croatians anything to worry about.

It was a near constant stream at the other end with Darijo Srna and Ivan Perisic hitting the bar and both going close on other occasions too. Srna in particular staved off the critics here with a performance which demonstrates - at the age of 34 - that he is not done yet.

There is a great balance to the Croatian team - Ivan Rakitic was excellent as was Marcelo Brozovic - but it will be the playmaking genius of Modric that will carry them far in France.