England v Croatia: Three Lions star Mount sings Modric's praises

By Sports Desk June 12, 2021

Mason Mount is relishing pitting his creative wits against the great Luka Modric when England take on Croatia in their Euro 2020 opener on Sunday.

Real Madrid playmaker Modric was influential as Croatia came from behind to beat Gareth Southgate's side 2-1 after extra time in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.

A generation of exciting young talent will try to help England right that wrong at an expectant Wembley, with Chelsea star Mount one of the leading lights.

No Englishman created more goalscoring opportunities than the 22-year-old's 87 in the Premier League in 2020-21. Mount ended the top-flight campaign with six goals and five assists before laying on Kai Havertz's winner in the Champions League final against Manchester City.

Chelsea secured their place in the continental showpiece with a 3-1 aggregate semi-final win over Madrid, and Mount enlisted the help of club team-mate and Modric's international colleague Mateo Kovacic to secure a prized possession – the Ballon d'Or winner's shirt.

"Ever since he was in the Premier League with Tottenham, I have watched him quite closely," Mount said of Modric.

"Playing against him, it was weird because I had watched him so much. I kind of knew his moves and what he was going to do."

Speaking at a pre-match news conference, Modric reprised the row over Croatia's impression of English arrogance at Russia 2018 in the form of the "It's Coming Home" slogan – the chorus line from the Euro 96 song Three Lions, despite it largely being used in self-deprecation by England fans.

"That arrogance is not so much related to the players but the people around them, some of the journalists and commentators," he said.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England – Raheem Sterling

Southgate looks set to keep faith with Sterling, who only scored one of his 14 Manchester City goals this season after the end of February. If he sees off the claims of Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish for a starting berth, it will be because of his fine form in international colours. Since Russia 2018, no England player has scored more goals from open play than Sterling's 11.

Croatia – Ivan Perisic

Perisic netted the equaliser when the sides met in Moscow and tends to revel on the big stage. The experienced Inter winger is one of three European players to have either scored or assisted in the past for major tournaments since Euro 2012, alongside Andres Iniesta and Cristiano Ronaldo.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- England are taking part in their 10th European Championship finals – no team has played as many games in the tournament without ever reaching the final (31).
- Croatia have lost against the eventual winner in three of their past four major tournaments: Spain at Euro 2012, Portugal at Euro 2016 and France in the final of the 2018 World Cup.
- England have never won their opening game at a European Championship (D5 L4). Croatia, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their five Euro openers (W4 D1).
- Harry Kane was the top scorer in Euro 2020 qualifying, netting in every one of England's eight matches (12 goals), becoming the first player to do this in a single qualification campaign for the Three Lions.
- Since the start of 2019-20, only Zlatan Ibrahimovic (25) has scored more Serie A goals for Milan than Ante Rebic (22).

Related items

  • England white-ball captain Morgan set to retire from international cricket England white-ball captain Morgan set to retire from international cricket

    England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan is set to retire from international cricket.

    Morgan is expected to announce his retirement during a press conference at Lord's on Tuesday, with vice-captain Jos Buttler poised to replace him.

    The 35-year-old batter has transformed the white-ball fortunes of England since his appointment in 2014, leading his side to World Cup glory with a dramatic win over New Zealand at Lord's in 2019.

    Morgan also guided England to the T20 World Cup final in 2016, before reaching the semi-finals of the same competition five years later.

    While England have become a huge force in limited-overs cricket during Morgan's tenure, the left-hander has struggled with the bat in recent times.

    England completed an ODI series sweep over Netherlands last week – extending their winning run to eight matches in the 50-over format – but Morgan failed to score in two matches before missing the final clash due to injury.

    The Dublin-born Morgan has passed 50 just once in his past eight ODI innings since scoring 106 against Ireland in February 2020, and had vowed to step down when he felt he could no longer contribute.

    England face India in a three-match T20I series starting on July 7 and are set to do so without their all-time leading run scorer in T20I and ODI cricket.

    Morgan has scored 7,701 ODI runs and 2,458 runs in the shortest format at international level. His 248 ODIs and 115 T20s are also England records for appearances.

    A brilliant leader and destructive batter, Morgan made his international debut for Ireland back in 2006 before committing to play for England. He played 16 Tests between 2010 and 2012.

    Matthew Mott will expect England to continue playing the aggressive brand of cricket that Morgan instilled as his side go in search of T20 World Cup glory in Australia later this year.

    They will then head to India next year attempting to defend their world title in the 50-over format.

  • Juventus defender Frabotta completes Lecce loan move Juventus defender Frabotta completes Lecce loan move

    Juventus defender Gianluca Frabotta has joined Lecce on loan for the 2022-23 season.

    The Italy Under-21 international moved to Turin from Bologna in 2019, initially featuring for the Under-23 side before making 16 appearances for Juve in the 2020-21 Serie A campaign.

    With Alex Sandro, Juan Cuadrado, Danilo and Mattia De Sciglio to choose from at full-back, Frabotta was sent on loan to Hellas Verona for the 2021-22 season.

    The 22-year-old made just two appearances for Verona, totalling only 18 minutes in Serie A, before returning to Juve.

    Frabotta will again play his football away from the Allianz Stadium next season, signing on loan for newly promoted side Lecce on Monday.

    The Juve loanee will hope to help Lecce, who start their Serie A campaign against Inter, avoid an immediate return to Serie B.

  • Cech exits as Chelsea boardroom reshuffle continues Cech exits as Chelsea boardroom reshuffle continues

    Chelsea technical and performance advisor Petr Cech has become the next departure as the Blues boardroom reshuffle continued following the takeover headed by Todd Boehly.

    Boehly and Clearlake Capital completed a £4.25billion takeover of Chelsea at the end of May, making numerous changes to start their tenure.

    Blues chairman Bruce Buck was the first to depart, with director and chief decision-maker Marina Granovskaia also set to leave after 12 years at Stamford Bridge.

    Granovskaia will remain available to Boehly, who is acting as interim sporting director and chairman, for the duration of the current transfer window to help with the transitional period.

    Cech, who took the boardroom role at Chelsea in 2019 after retiring as a player, reportedly held talks with Boehly this week in the wake of the Buck and Granovskaia exits.

    The former goalkeeper has subsequently opted to leave his role, effective on Thursday.

    "It has been a huge privilege to perform this role at Chelsea for the past three years. With the club under new ownership, I feel now is the right time for me to step aside," Cech said. 

    "I am pleased that the club is now in an excellent position with the new owners, and I am confident of its future success both on and off the pitch."

    Boehly added: "Petr is an important member of the Chelsea family.

    "We understand his decision to step away and thank him for his contributions as an advisor and his commitment to the club and to our community. We wish him the best."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.