Croatia‘s battle to get past the group stages in Brazil looks like climbing the Alps without having an oxygen cylinder on their back. After being at the receiving end of an inexplicably blunt referring decision to give hosts Brazil a soft penalty, Niko Kovac’s side have now been dealt a huge blow. Star midfielder Luka Modric was reportedly injured during the opening game’s clash and with strong pain in his foot on Friday, the  Croatian medical staff decided to send Modric for an MRI. 

The Associated Press report claimed, “Playmaker Luka Modric is a doubt for Croatia’s next World Cup match against Cameroon after picking up a foot injury in his side’s loss to Brazil in the tournament opener. Croatia team officials said Friday that Modric was taken to a hospital in Salvador, near the squad’s training base, to check the extent of his injury after feeling pain.”

“We deserved more; we had to get more out of this match. We left our hearts on the field and we were aggressive. I don’t think that Brazilians would score if they were not awarded that penalty and that’s why this is so painful,” Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic said. However, painful it was to lose the European side are well aware that they can still qualify but need to focus and concentrate on the upcoming matches against Cameroon and Mexico.

“In my opinion it wasn’t a penalty but that’s all I’ll say about that subject. We can’t turn back the clock,” said 21-year-old debutant Sime Vrsaljko. “If we continue to play like this in other two matches we don’t need to be scared. We will advance to the next phase,” Vrsaljko said.

Meanwhile England captain Steven Gerrard said he and his teammates were satisfied with the surface quality after seeing the Manaus pitch for the first time on Friday. 

“I’ve just been on the pitch, it’s totally fine, the grass is a good length and the sun is off it at half-four,” the Liverpool skipper said. England coach Roy Hodgson also too was satisfied.

“I’ve been on the pitch and it is possible to play good football on it,” he said. “We’ll be perfectly happy to play on it.”

England take on Italy in the rematch the quarter final of the EURO 2012 and Gerrard calims that the Three Lions are now a better side 

“We’re a better team and a better squad, confidence is higher, preparation has gone well and we’re growing as a team, trying to improve,” the 34-year-old said. “We know we’ll be judged on the games coming up. Hopefully we can prove to everyone we have improved as a team.

“I do feel we’re ready. We’re very focused, can’t wait to get started. We’ve got one short session to go and then looked forward to match day. We’ve respect for Italy. They’re a fantastic team with wonderful players but there’s certainly no fear. We can’t wait for kick-off to get going.”

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