- Associated Press - Monday, June 20, 2016

BORDEAUX, France (AP) - Croatia coach Ante Cacic is not ruling out Luka Modric for the team’s final Group D game against Spain at the European Championship.

Cacic said he will wait to see how the player progresses from a thigh injury and won’t make a decision until after the team’s final practice session on Monday, when the Real Madrid player will be reevaluated.

“He underwent an MRI and there was no rupture of the muscle, but I will make a decision tomorrow or after this evening’s practice session,” Cacic said. “He is a really important player for me and for my team. It will be special if he can play.”

Croatia isn’t guaranteed a berth in the knockout stages but is likely to advance as one of the best third-place teams even if it loses Tuesday’s game against the two-time defending champions, which have already secured a spot in the last 16.

Croatia needs a draw to guarantee second place in the group, while a win in Bordeaux would allow it to advance as the group winner. Croatia has four points, two less than Spain and three more than the Czech Republic. Turkey has zero points.

Modric got injured in the second half of the 2-2 draw against the Czech Republic on Friday, when Croatia relinquished a two-goal lead late in the game to miss a chance to clinch its spot in the next round.

“Luka Modric is certainly our best player,” said his Real Madrid teammate Mateo Kovacic. “Without him we lack rhythm. He gives continuity to our game and it will certainly be difficult if he doesn’t play.”

Croatia began to struggle in the game against the Czechs right after Modric had to be substituted in the 62nd minute. He had scored Croatia’s winner in the opening match against Turkey with a remarkable long-range volley.

“Maybe it’s better that he is not taking risks against Spain so he can rest a little bit because we will needed him for the next games,” midfielder Ivan Perisic said. “He is a player with a lot of experience. He has played a lot of important matches.”


Tales Azzoni on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tazzoni. His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/tales-azzoni

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