Neville names unstoppable star England must ‘snuff out’

Gary Neville says England must “snuff out” Luka Modric if they want to overcome Croatia.

Gareth Southgate’s side take on the side that knocked them out at the semi-final stage of the 2018 World Cup in their opening Euro 2020 Group D game on Sunday.

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This may be the last hurrah for Modric on the international stage, but the 35-year-old remains a huge threat to England.

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And Neville says England must be wary of the “game-changer” and the Croatian team in general.

He said: “Producing talented players is one thing, but having a real spirit for the nation, for the country, I was part of Euro 1996 where Croatia’s fans burst onto the scene, I think it was the first time we’d seen them in a tournament and it was an incredible thing.

“They’ve always had talented players, obviously beating England in a semi-final three years ago. There was disappointment but they were just better. As the game grew, as it travelled towards the end, their midfield got on top, started to switch the play and wear us down.

“Forget the 5m population, they’re a really good group of players, who desperately want to do well for their country.

“With Modric, you’ve got a player who’s seen every game, every situation. He knows he’s composed at the right moment, and that’s a problem for England. If that moment in the game comes, a draw with 10 minutes to go, he’s in and around the final third, he’s the one who will thread that pass, who will put that ball into the box. He will win that free-kick and take it. These players are game-changers, the ones you can’t stop.

“I think it was in 1998 we played an ageing Georgi Hagi for Romania, and we ended up with a really disappointing result. When you have these great, great players, even just one in a team, they can make a massive difference to the group around them. They just thrive off them.

“He’s adored, not only in his own country but around Europe. He’s a big danger to England, and one that needs snuffing out.”


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