Zlatko Dalic played down initial concerns over Luka Modric's fitness after the Real Madrid midfielder was injured in Croatia's 1-1 Euro 2020 qualifying draw with Wales.

Modric had to be helped off the field by Croatia's medical staff with a minute of normal time remaining, having taken a knock as he fouled Harry Wilson and earned a booking in Cardiff on Sunday.

However, head coach Dalic soon explained the issue and hoped Modric would be able to make a swift recovery, with key matches to come for both Croatia – still chasing Euro 2020 qualification – and LaLiga leaders Madrid.

"[Modric] got hit in the muscle, which is awkward and quite painful, so he had to go off," said Dalic, as reported by Gol.hr.

"He will certainly need a two to three-day break, but I hope he will be alright."

Croatia would have qualified for next year's European Championships by beating Wales away from home, yet Gareth Bale's strike late in the first half cancelled out Nikola Vlasic's opener.

Vlasic conceded he was a little surprised by Wales' lack of ambition after equalising, given they are fourth in Group E and progress is now no longer in their hands.

Only a half-chance for Daniel James saw either goalkeeper worked in the second period.

"I think [Wales] did well in defence," Vlasic said. "They were very compact - they knew what we were doing. They clearly analysed our match in Slovakia [a 4-0 Croatia win].

"We retreated a little after taking the lead because we knew this was an important match for them. They had to go forward, so we expected that they would open up more.

"But they closed everything pretty well. We didn't manage to create five or six chances after half-time as in the first half.

"They didn't want to play with us because they know we're a better team and this is a big point for them."

Ryan Giggs was optimistic Wales superstar Gareth Bale had only suffered from cramp as he hobbled out of a combative clash with Croatia on Sunday.

Bale scored Wales' equaliser in Cardiff as they drew 1-1 with Group E leaders Croatia in Euro 2020 qualifying, although the result leaves Giggs' men with plenty of work to do.

The Real Madrid winger was one of three Wales players who appeared to take a knock, with Dan James recovering from an early blow, Ethan Ampadu later substituted off, and Bale then limping badly after indicating a calf issue.

Giggs assured both James and Ampadu were fine, while he was hopeful on Bale's status.

"Gareth's just got a bit of cramp towards the end," he told Sky Sports. "He didn't want to come off, though.

"It was a fantastic performance from Gareth, it was just a shame that he did get that - it was about 10 minutes really at the end, so we were down one player really.

"But it looks like it's just cramp."

The James and Ampadu incidents were both rugged aerial challenges that earned yellow cards, while Luka Modric injured himself while hacking at Harry Wilson.

Giggs cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines but insisted his issue was with Croatia slowing Wales' attacks rather than with the strength of the tackles.

Asked if he was upset by Croatia's approach, the coach replied: "Yeah, a little bit. But they're smart players.

"It's not about looking for players to get booked - they're just stopping our flow, which they're good at. It's something we need to get better at.

"They're smart. Good players and smart, as well. It was more the stopping of the flow of us counter-attacking that I was complaining about really. It's a physical game and we've come through it well."

Wales must now win their remaining two matches - against Azerbaijan and Hungary - and hope Slovakia drop points, but Giggs is happy with the permutations.

"We're in it. After these two games [including a draw in Slovakia], I wanted to be in it," he said. "We've got two games which won't be easy against two tough teams.

"We'll look forward to those games - it's exciting. Get it down to that second game with Hungary here."

James added: "[Croatia] have shown what a great team they are, top of the group. They came here and I know we lost in the summer but it was about bouncing back from that. Today, we got a good result."

Real Madrid looked to be dealt a double blow on Sunday as Luka Modric and Gareth Bale both picked up injuries on international duty.

Croatia's Modric travelled to Wales hoping to secure their Euro 2020 qualification but was frustrated as Madrid team-mate Bale netted an equaliser in a 1-1 draw in Cardiff.

Neither side was able to force a winner, yet they each ended the match hindered by issues to their key men.

Modric was booked for wiping out Harry Wilson a minute from time but injured himself in the process and had to be helped from the pitch by Croatia's medical staff.

As Modric received treatment, Bale turned to the Wales physios as he appeared to indicate an issue with his calf.

While Modric was substituted, Bale played on through the eight minutes of stoppage time, clearly limping and remaining on the field merely to make up the numbers.

David Beckham hailed record-breaking Sergio Ramos after the Spain captain broke the country's appearance record.

Ramos surpassed Iker Casillas' record by earning his 168th cap in Spain's 1-1 draw with Norway in Euro 2020 qualifying on Saturday.

The 33-year-old defender, who debuted in 2005, equalled the record last month before making his landmark appearance away to Norway.

Former Real Madrid team-mate Beckham congratulated Ramos in an Instagram video, which said: "My friend, mi amigo.

"This is an incredible moment for you. I just wanted to send you a message because you've played 168 games for your country.

"You must be very proud. Your family must be very proud. It's an incredible moment, passing Iker.

"So, I'm very happy for you and your family. Congratulations my friend, a kiss for you. Enjoy the night.

"Lots of love my friend and congratulations."

Sergio Ramos was hailed as an "incredible" servant to Spain by coach Robert Moreno after becoming the most-capped player in the team's history.

Ramos made his 168th international appearance in a 1-1 Euro 2020 qualifier away to Norway on Saturday, edging ahead of his former Real Madrid and international team-mate Iker Casillas.

The defender has won two European Championship titles and a World Cup with Spain and has indicated he wants to play at next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo, while he previously set reaching 200 caps as a target.

While the Olympics starts less than two weeks after Euro 2020 ends, complicating Ramos' potential schedule for next year, Moreno praised the Spain skipper for his continued desire.

"Ramos' record is incredible," Moreno told a news conference. "And he still wants to compete, win titles.

"I want to congratulate him publicly and hopefully he can give us joy for much longer."

Among the celebrations for Ramos there was disappointment for Spain at Ullevaal Stadion, though, as Joshua King's second-half stoppage-time penalty prevented La Roja from sealing a spot at the finals with three games still to play.

Bournemouth striker King struck from the spot after Kepa Arrizabalaga's clumsy challenge on Omar Elabdellaoui saw referee Michael Oliver point to the spot.

"I'm left with a bad feeling because when you concede an equaliser at the end it is not good," Moreno added. "We tried to have the ball and control, and in the last minutes we had to kill the game.

"I liked the attitude of the team, but not the first half. In the second half we have tightened up more, we generated opportunities to score the second goal ... but in the end the control has been lost."

Spain will have another chance to secure qualification when they travel to play Sweden on Tuesday.

Moreno said: "We are going to try to win in Sweden, and we are going to try to score 28 points [in the group campaign] since we will not be able to get 30. Norway have been very strong, and played with the ambition of a team that still has options [to qualify].

"They go crazy when there is a team that has nothing to lose, and that's what happened to Norway."

Spain's line-up to face Norway included players from 11 different clubs, with Moreno accepting it might be beneficial were clubs such as LaLiga giants Barcelona or Real Madrid providing more talent to his squad.

"We have many players from many teams," he added. "I would love to have seven players from the same team, who will play together every week ... but that is not the case.

"It is a statistic that I did not know, but it means we have many good players in many good teams."

Sergio Ramos says he would not turn down the chance to play for Spain at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Reports this week suggested Spain's skipper, who has already won the World Cup and European Championship titles, was keen to represent his country in Tokyo.

Taking part in the tournament could be complicated for Ramos given the Olympics begin less than two weeks after the Euro 2020 final is played at Wembley.

Real Madrid defender Ramos, however, indicated he is willing to balance a busy schedule for the chance to add another international honour to his record.

"It is early to talk about the Olympic Games," he said on Saturday. "But anyone who had the chance and was called to play in the Games would not say no.

"It is something you cannot refuse. There is a lot of the season left and it is a very nice idea."

Ramos was speaking after Spain's 1-1 draw away to Norway in a Euro 2020 qualifier, the captain making his 168th international appearance.

That moved him above former club and country team-mate Iker Casillas as Spain's most-capped player but Ramos said he would have swapped the milestone for a victory, which would have secured La Roja's place at Euro 2020.

"The personal is secondary," he added. "I would have changed the record for the victory.

"It is a pride to be the Spaniard who has worn this shirt more times, which I still hope to wear much more.

"It was a shame we drew. Norway have taken advantage of the last minutes, and in one play they tied us.

"I'm sad, because we would have liked to achieve the qualification."

Sergio Ramos has become the most-capped player in Spain's history, eclipsing Iker Casillas' record by making his 168th appearance for La Roja.

Ramos was included in Robert Moreno's XI for a Euro 2020 qualifier away to Norway on Saturday, with qualification in their sights.

When he equalled Casillas' record last month, Ramos indicated he has a landmark appearance in mind before following former centre-back partner Gerard Pique into international retirement.

"Records are there to be broken," said the Real Madrid defender, who made his Spain debut in 2005.

"I hope that this momentum, enthusiasm and ambition always accompanies me and that I reach 200 games, which is the objective. You have to make it difficult."

Ramos is reportedly keen to play for Spain at the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year in a bid to add to the World Cup and European Championship titles he has won with La Roja.

Asked about the matter this week, Moreno told reporters: "I haven't talked about the Olympic Games with him. That desire defines him as a footballer.

"He has one more motivation to add to his career. It is difficult, when you have won everything, to stay motivated."

Gareth Bale says he wants to finally get one over on Luka Modric when Croatia visit Wales in Euro 2020 qualifying.

The Real Madrid team-mates will be the two biggest stars on show for Sunday's Group E game in Cardiff.

Croatia lead the pool on 13 points with Wales six back in fourth spot, although Ryan Giggs' side have a game in hand.

Wales drew away to Slovakia on Thursday, Bale sustaining a knee injury, but he is expected to be fit to face Croatia.

The forward is looking forward to testing himself against Ballon d'Or winner Modric, Croatia having won the reverse game 2-1 in June.

"Whenever we have played we've always lost by one goal and it’s always been quite a tight game," Bale told reporters.

"We know what a great team they are, they had a great World Cup and they have shown year after year how good they actually are.

"We know it is going to be very tough, but I think being at home gives us a little bit more of an advantage and we know the Welsh crowd will be behind us.

"We've played together for a long time in Tottenham and Real Madrid so we know each other quite well. It would be nice to get one over on him finally because they have beaten us a few times in the past."

Bale is one booking away from missing a qualifier through suspension, which he accepts will be on his mind against Croatia.

"I can't make too many silly tackles or anything, I have to be mindful of that," Bale said. "I don't want to miss any games for Wales and especially at the crunch time of the group.

"I guess I have to be clever with what I'm doing but maybe I have to expect that someone is going to wind me up to get me suspended."

Luis Suarez and Karim Benzema are the wrong side of 30 and could soon be looking over their shoulders.

LaLiga heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid are planning for the future and have reportedly identified ideal long-term successors to their respective strikers.

Meanwhile, two Premier League rivals could be about to do battle for the signature of a highly rated defender.


TOP STORY – ENEMIES EYE REINFORCEMENTS

AS claim Spanish champions Barca have identified Donyell Malen as the man to replace star striker Suarez, now 32.

The PSV forward scored on his international debut for Netherlands in September and has netted 10 goals in nine Eredivisie games this term.

Inter's Lautaro Martinez and Rafael Leao of AC Milan are also in the Blaugrana's sights.

Madrid, meanwhile, are considering an approach for Salzburg teenager Erling Haaland, AS adds.

Luka Jovic is yet to make much of an impression in the Spanish capital and Haaland, the scorer of four goals in two Champions League games, could prove a more useful option behind Benzema.


ROUND-UP

- Kai Havertz insists the decision on his next move will be his alone. Barca and Madrid have been linked with the in-demand Bayer Leverkusen midfielder, who told a news conference he is ready to take control of his future.

- Manchester City are preparing to hijack Manchester United's move for Ruben Dias. According to The Sun, the Premier League champions see the Benfica centre-back as the solution to their defensive crisis.

- In a second blow to the under-pressure Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Daily Mail claims United medical staff fear the injured Paul Pogba will spend the rest of October on the sideline. Pogba is in Dubai for warm-weather training as he battles to overcome a foot problem, but is in doubt for the blockbuster clash with leaders Liverpool in just over a week.

- Chelsea are weighing up whether to recall Ethan Ampadu from his RB Leipzig loan spell when the transfer window reopens in January, the Daily Express reports. Wales international Ampadu has not registered a single appearance for the Bundesliga outfit.

- Steven Gerrard's success in turning Rangers into genuine Scottish Premiership title contenders has garnered unexpected interest in his services. The Sun says Turkish giants Besiktas see the former Liverpool and England midfielder as a good fit to replace Abdullah Avci, should the incumbent boss fail to improve their Super Lig fortunes.

Sergio Ramos has impressed Spain boss Robert Moreno with his desire to play for his country at next year's Olympic Games.

A source close to Ramos this week apparently leaked the news that the Real Madrid and Spain defender, who is set to become his country's most-capped player this weekend, wants to go for gold in Tokyo.

According to Spanish newspaper Marca, the team that travels to Japan was expected to be based around the players who won the European Under-21 Championship in June.

There is scope to include a number of more senior players, however, which could open the door for Ramos.

However, the 33-year-old is also expected to play for Spain at Euro 2020, meaning he would face a heavy workload given the tournaments take place almost back to back, with a brief gap in mid-July.

Moreno will be spared having to make a decision on Ramos over the Olympics, as responsibility for that team is set to fall on Spain Under-21 boss Luis de la Fuente.

"I haven't talked about the Olympic Games with him," Moreno said of Ramos.

"That desire defines him as a footballer. He has one more motivation to add to his career. It is difficult, when you have won everything, to stay motivated."

Moreno says Ramos, who will make a record 168th appearance for Spain when La Roja play Norway on Saturday, will need to demonstrate the team would benefit from his presence at the Olympics.

"It would be unfair for everyone to pick someone just because of their name," said Moreno.

"The fair thing is for everyone to maintain a high performance, but Sergio, who I see training every day, will maintain his level.

"When it comes to the time, Luis de la Fuente will have to decide who to take to the Games."

Spain, as hosts, won gold in the 1992 Olympic men's football tournament with a team including Luis Enrique and Pep Guardiola.

They were silver medallists in Sydney eight years later when Xavi and Carles Puyol were in their ranks.

Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz insists he will have the final say on his next career move after being linked with Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The 20-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in 2018-19, scoring 17 Bundesliga goals as he helped Leverkusen qualify for the Champions League.

Havertz scored his first international goal for Germany in Wednesday's 2-2 draw with Argentina and reports in Spain suggest LaLiga heavyweights Madrid and Barcelona are interested in the player.

While open to advice on his future, including from national boss Joachim Low, Havertz - who is under contract at BayArena until 2022 - will make a choice that is right for him.

Speaking at a Germany news conference on Friday, he said: "I listen to many people but in the end it will be my decision. 

"I will embrace any advice Low will give me because he has a lot experience - it wouldn't be smart to not listen to him."

Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller confirmed in August that Bayern Munich have previously showed an interest in Havertz, who is in line to feature for his country in the Euro 2020 qualifier against Estonia on Sunday.

Sergio Reguilon insists he left Real Madrid "on good terms" despite others making the decision to loan him to Sevilla for the season.

Reguilon, 22, broke into Madrid's first-team squad last season, usurping Marcelo as first-choice left-back for a period in the second half of the season under Santiago Solari, his former Castilla coach.

The left-back soon found himself playing back-up again once Zinedine Zidane returned and restored Marcelo to the starting XI in March, while the pre-season signing of Ferland Mendy from Lyon saw Reguilon's hopes of first-team football diminish even further.

Sevilla are coached by Julen Lopetegui, who initially promoted Reguilon to Madrid's first team during a short-lived spell for the coach at the Santiago Bernabeu last year, and the Andalusian club secured the full-back's arrival on a season-long loan in July.

Reguilon has been a revelation for Sevilla, starting seven of their eight LaLiga matches.

His impressive performances resulted in a first call-up to Spain's senior squad for October's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Norway and Sweden, suggesting Reguilon could have been an asset to Madrid this term, though he feels entirely at ease with his parent club.

"I have a very clear conscience because I left everything out there [on the pitch] for Real Madrid," Reguilon told AS.

"Others made that decision [to loan Reguilon] and I can't do anything but do my job to the very best. It's what I did in Madrid and I try to do it now at Sevilla.

"I left Madrid on good terms, I wasn't mad at anyone. Everything was a mutual agreement. I am an academy player and I owe everything to Madrid. It's impossible for me to leave in a bad way.

"I want to do my best at Sevilla and that's my only concern. The best way to make it difficult for Zidane is to play well for Sevilla.

"My plan is to run, perform and give everything in every game and next year, whatever happens will happen."

Reguilon is expected to return to Madrid at the end of the season as Sevilla do not have a purchase option.

Paris Saint-Germain full-back Juan Bernat was surprised Neymar remained with the Ligue 1 giants this season despite strong interest from Barcelona.

Brazil star Neymar was a constant subject of speculation in the previous transfer window, with the forward doing little to hush the rumours of a potential return to Camp Nou.

Barca were said to have offered PSG cash and up to three players – reportedly Ivan Rakitic, Jean-Clair Todibo and Ousmane Dembele – but the deal did not go through, despite the Catalan club reportedly being confident of getting it over the line.

The strained relationship between the two clubs from when Neymar left Barca for PSG for €222million two years earlier was said to have impacted discussions, though Bernat acknowledged he felt the former Santos talent was more likely to leave than stay.

"Yes, it's true that I saw him more [likely] out of the club than in it for everything that was said in the press," Bernat told Marca.

"Until the transfer window closed, anything could've happened.

"It was the best outcome for us [PSG]. He makes a difference with [Kylian] Mbappe. In the first game, as soon as he returned, he scored a goal.

"Then against Lyon he was also decisive. They [Neymar and Mbappe] are a different level.

"They are very skilled players. They carry the ball and make you suffer. Luckily we have them in our team."

Similarly, Mbappe was also linked with a move away from the Parc des Princes, with Real Madrid said to be eager to sign him.

Bernat is not surprised Mbappe attracts such interest, having seen first-hand in training that the 20-year-old is "practically impossible" to stop.

He said: "In a race Mbappe is unstoppable. If he starts [running], you're lost. When he has space, it is very complicated to slow him down.

"With the power he has it is practically impossible. Either you anticipate or there's nothing you can do. He competes very well, and that's what's going to make him very big.

"It [Madrid's interest] is normal, but he is ours and I hope he will always stay with us. He is in a big club."

Dani Ceballos insists he has not given up on his Real Madrid "dream" despite being sent out on loan to Arsenal this season.

Spain international Ceballos joined Madrid in 2017 after emerging as one of LaLiga's most promising talents at Real Betis, but he struggled to secure regular football under Zinedine Zidane.

After Zidane's departure, Ceballos began to play more regularly for Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari, but that did not continue when the Frenchman returned in March.

He was allowed to leave for Arsenal on loan and has shown flashes of his ability in London, with Gunners fans quickly taking to the playmaker.

Though it seems they should not get used to his presence, as he still sees his long-term future at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"When I don't play, I don't enjoy myself," he told Radio Marca. "These two years [at Real Madrid] I've learned a lot from the club, but now I'm enjoying it [football].

"I knew it was an important year, the coach has doubts and he who doesn't play doesn't go [to Euro 2020], so it was a good time to go on loan.

"With [Arsenal coach Unai] Emery's confidence I may have many chances to be in the Euros squad.

"I never thought about going permanently. My goal is to succeed at Real Madrid. I will fight to fulfil my dream."

Martin Odegaard is another Madrid-owned player thriving on loan this season, with his performances at Real Sociedad marking him out as one of LaLiga's standout stars in 2019-20.

Ceballos has consequently come to the conclusion it might be a good season to be away from Los Blancos.

"You're seeing that maybe it wasn't the year to play for Real Madrid," he added. "It has been a very successful decision [for Odegaard], he has a lot of room for improvement.

"From now to the next few years, he will be a very important player for Real Madrid."

Euro 2020 is not the only international tournament Ceballos hopes of featuring in over the next year, as he will do everything he can to get Madrid to approve his decision to play at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

"It's something that I may not play in my life again," Ceballos said. "I would put my dream on the table to the club.

"I have spoken with people from the [Royal Spanish Football] Federation who know that I would like to go, I would be delighted. I want to go to the Olympics and to the Euros.

"There are two tournaments that demand a lot of responsibility. I don't care if I don't have a holiday. I'm 23 years old and I'll rest when I'm older."

Another day, another rumour about Christian Eriksen.

The soon-to-be free agent Eriksen wants a new challenge after flagging his intent during the previous transfer window.

A move to LaLiga appeals and a Spanish giant from the capital are reportedly ready to pounce.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID EYE ERIKSEN 

AS and Marca claim Real Madrid are ready to make a move for Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen in January.

Eriksen is a free agent at the end of the season, and the Spurs star has been linked to the likes of Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Manchester United and Inter.

However, Madrid are reportedly unwilling to wait until season's end as they look to strengthen their midfield.

ROUND-UP

Inter are eyeing Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic, says FC Inter News. Matic has found himself out of favour under United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and a switch to Serie A could be on the cards for the Serbia international, whose contract expires at the end of the season.

- According to Calciomercato, Serie A champions Juventus are looking to sign Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri. The Italy international worked with Maurizio Sarri during the former Chelsea boss' time at Stamford Bridge.

Massimiliano Allegri has handed United a "deadline" for him to be given the job at Old Trafford, says La Gazzetta dello Sport. Solskjaer is under growing pressure, with the Red Devils enduring a difficult season and former Juventus boss Allegri has emerged as a possible replacement.

- Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil fears he has played his last game for the Gunners, according to the Mirror. Ozil has struggled to establish himself since Unai Emery's arrival and the former Germany international has been linked to MLS outfit DC United and Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

- Le10Sport claims former Chile, Sevilla and Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli is on the shortlist to fill the Lyon vacancy following Sylvinho's sacking. Sampaoli is in charge of Brazilian side Santos.

- Gianluca Di Marzio reports Claudio Ranieri is in the mix to take over at Sampdoria, who sacked Eusebio Di Francesco prior to the international break. Ranieri – who sensationally led Leicester City to Premier League glory in 2015-16 – last oversaw Roma on a temporary basis last term. Ex-AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso reportedly turned down the job.

- Manchester United are among the admirers of rising Mexico star Sebastian Cordova, reports Record. The 22-year-old America playmaker made his international debut for El Tri last week. The attacking third and midfield are areas of concern for United, who have also been linked to Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic and Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic.

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