Modric eyeing Jelavic goals
Luka Modric has backed Nikica Jelavic to find a way past the Republic of Ireland but is wary of the threat of Robbie Keane.
Last Updated: 08/06/12 6:47pm
Luka Modric has backed Croatia team-mate Nikica Jelavic to find a way past the Republic of Ireland but is wary of the threat of Robbie Keane.
Croatia and Ireland face each other in their Group C opener on Sunday in the knowledge that a defeat would leave either side in a precarious position with games against Spain and Italy to follow.
Slaven Bilic's side will be looking to Jelavic to help them to three points after the 26-year-old scored 11 goals in 16 games for Everton after a January move from Rangers.
And playmaker Modric believes scoring goals is the Croatia team's great strength.
"Of course, Nikica was in good form for Everton," the Tottenham midfielder told Sky Sports News.
"I hope he can continue that form in the national team. But we have other great strikers that, in every minute, can score goals - and that's our strength as well."
Former Arsenal forward Eduardo and ex-Blackburn man Nikola Kalinic are Bilic's other options but Modric has identified the opposition captain as the striker to keep an eye on.
"Robbie is very dangerous," Modric said of his ex-Spurs team-mate.
"He always finds the gap between the lines where he dictates the play and it's going to be important for us to stop him getting in dangerous positions because he's lethal."
While Modric respects Sunday's opponents, he is happy with the draw as he feels it represents Croatia's best chance of getting off to a winning start.
"The group is very tough," added the 26-year-old.
"There are the world and European champions Spain. Italy and Ireland are two very strong sides.
"For us, we all wanted to play the first game against Ireland - probably Ireland as well when they drew the group wanted to play against us.
"I think we can go through if we win the first game. We have to be on top of our game to beat them. We respect them a lot.
"But I think we still edge them in quality and I hope we are able to show that on the pitch and win the game."