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."

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.

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."

Eden Hazard scored and assisted his first goals for Real Madrid as the LaLiga leaders held on to beat stubborn second-placed opponents Granada 4-2 to extend their lead at the summit. 

The Belgium international lifted the ball over Rui Silva to get off the mark in his sixth match for the club, doubling the hosts' tally after Karim Benzema's early opener in Saturday's top-of-the-table clash at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

Substitute Luka Modric added another from range for Madrid but surprise package Granada pulled one back from the spot after Alphonse Areola gave away a penalty, then Domingos Duarte set up a tense finale with his close-range finish. 

But Zinedine Zidane's men saw out their first win in three matches, James Rodriguez striking in added time, to move four points clear of Granada and city rivals Atletico Madrid, who have a game in hand to play. 

Luka Modric has been included in Real Madrid's squad for the derby against Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

The Croatia midfielder, who has been struggling with a muscular complaint, has not featured since the 2-2 draw with Villarreal on September 1.

Marcelo is not yet fit enough to take his place in the squad, however, meaning Nacho is likely to line up at left-back, while Isco is still out injured.

There is also no place in the squad for Rodrygo Goes, who scored on his senior debut in Wednesday's 2-0 win over Osasuna.

The 18-year-old will play for the club's Castilla side on Saturday against Rayo Majadahonda, rather than being involved with the first team at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Liverpool duo Alisson and Virgil van Dijk lined up alongside familiar faces Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the FIFA FIFPro Men's World11 for 2019.

Messi and Ronaldo were voted in by their fellow professionals for a 13th straight year, maintaining their ever-present records since 2007.

Goalkeeper Alisson and centre-back Van Dijk have been rewarded after helping the Reds to Champions League glory earlier this year, although they missed out on the Premier League title to domestic treble-winners Manchester City - who were not represented in the XI.

Real Madrid have the most players with four, albeit Eden Hazard only moved to the Spanish capital in the close season from Chelsea after winning the Europa League in his final game for the English club.

Madrid stalwarts Sergio Ramos and Marcelo were chosen to join Van Dijk and another Dutchman in Matthijs de Ligt at the back, while Luka Modric - winner of The Best FIFA Men's Player award in 2018 – kept a place in midfield.

Messi, who scooped the individual honour this year ahead of Van Dijk and Ronaldo, was joined by new Barca team-mate Frenkie de Jong, while Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe completed the forward line.

FIFA Men's Best XI: Alisson (Liverpool); De Ligt (Juventus), Van Dijk (Liverpool), Ramos (Real Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid); Modric (Real Madrid), De Jong (Barcelona), Hazard (Real Madrid); Ronaldo (Juventus), Messi (Barcelona), Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

Eden Hazard is ready to make his Real Madrid debut this weekend but Zinedine Zidane intends to take extreme caution with his fit-again star signing.

Belgium international Hazard has been cleared to make his first LaLiga appearance against Levante on Saturday, three months after arriving from Chelsea in a deal that reportedly could eventually cost Madrid €140million.

An ill-timed thigh injury on the eve of the new season delayed the 28-year-old's competitive bow, which appears likely to come from the bench at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"We have to go little by little with him," Zidane said. "He's been injured for three weeks. He's back training this week.

"We all want to see him play. We've got seven games in 21 days. We have to go carefully with him.

"We know what the situation is – he's ready and that's the most important thing.

"I'll be the one in charge of giving him minutes here and there and not trying to push him too much, trying to get the best out of him.

"We've got a lot of matches coming up, not just this one tomorrow, and we need to use our heads with Eden Hazard. So let's be calm. We're all ready and so is he."

While star signing Hazard is back in the mix, Madrid will be without Luka Modric for their fourth LaLiga fixture after the midfielder suffered a right leg muscle injury.

The 34-year-old, who played two full matches for Croatia during the international break, could also miss the midweek Champions League trip to Paris Saint-Germain.

Madrid have been riddled with fitness issues throughout the early part of the new season but head coach Zidane would not apportion blame for the latest setback.

"Everyone tries to do the best for the players," he said.

"Luka played two games in four days [with Croatia]. That's what happens. We can't think too much about it, we just want Luka to get fit quickly to help us.

"The fact he's injured now and can't play tomorrow, we just have to accept it."

Zidane added: "I think all the clubs have similar problems. The fact we've got a lot of international players as well makes things difficult.

"But we work well on the training field, we've got the best backroom staff, I trust them, so we just hope after the injury to Luka we don't have any more."

Luka Modric has become the latest Real Madrid player to be struck down by injury ahead of an important run of matches.

Tests undertaken on Thursday confirmed an adductor issue for midfielder Modric, who looks highly likely to miss this weekend's LaLiga fixture against Levante.

Zinedine Zidane's men then commence their Champions League campaign away to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, before returning to Spain for a tough trip to Sevilla.

Modric, 34, completed two full matches for Croatia during the international break but now joins Isco, Marco Asensio and Brahim Diaz in the treatment room, while James Rodriguez and Eden Hazard have also suffered in recent weeks.

Madrid's statement read: "Following the tests carried out on our player Luka Modric by Real Madrid's medical department, he has been diagnosed with a muscular injury to the adductor in his right leg.

"His recovery will continue to be assessed."

Modric's appearances in Euro 2020 qualifying for Croatia included a goal against Azerbaijan, the Ballon d'Or winner converting a penalty in the 1-1 draw.

EA Sports has revealed the 10 highest-rated players on FIFA 20 ahead of the game's release later this month, with Lionel Messi back on top after Cristiano Ronaldo ranked first last year.

Messi enjoyed another stellar campaign for Barcelona in 2018-19, scoring 36 goals in 34 LaLiga matches, inspiring the club's title defence and run to the Champions League semi-finals.

Ronaldo's first season at Juventus – who will be known as Piemonte Calcio on FIFA 20 – went as smoothly as might have been expected, with the forward finishing as the club's top-scorer as they claimed an eighth successive Scudetto, though that was not enough to retain his crown as FIFA's highest-rated player.

Neither Ronaldo nor Messi were able to win the Champions League, however, with that honour falling to Liverpool, who have two representatives in the top 10.

Find out who they are and which other players join Messi and Ronaldo in the 10 below.

10. Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona – 90

Germany international Ter Stegen has developed into one of the globe's most well-rounded goalkeepers after an initially slow start to life at Camp Nou. He is one of three players with a rating of 90, making him the second best keeper on the game.

9. Luka Modric, Real Madrid – 90

Last year's Ballon d'Or winner, Modric's 2019 has not been particularly outstanding, as he has found himself out of the Madrid team a little more due to suspect form. He may be down one rating point from FIFA 19, but he still reaches 90.

8. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool – 90

A crucial part of Liverpool's Champions League winning side, Salah has truly established himself as one the world's primary stars over the last couple of years. He was not even in the top 20 in FIFA 19, however.

7. Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool – 91

The most important player in Liverpool's Champions League success? Until recently the most expensive defender ever, Van Dijk's influence on the Reds is undeniable. That is reflected in the fact he will be FIFA 20's best defender.

6. Jan Oblak, Atletico Madrid – 91

Widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world for his quality and consistency, Oblak replaces David de Gea – who had a shaky 2018-19 – as the top-ranked keeper on FIFA.

5. Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City – 91

Even though injuries have plagued De Bruyne in recent times, robbing him of a chunk of last season, the Belgium star remains one of most highly regarded players on the game, with the City star beginning 2019-20 in ominous fashion.

4. Eden Hazard, Real Madrid – 91

After helping Chelsea to Europa League success, enjoying a generally fine individual campaign as the Premier League's most creative player with 15 assists, he earned his dream move to Real Madrid. He's yet to feature due to injury, but he'll be hopeful of elevating himself to the next level now.

3. Neymar, Paris Saint-Germain – 92

Perhaps a controversial choice to some, Neymar missed a big part of last season through injury and only won Ligue 1 and the Trophee des Champions, as he was also absent for Brazil's Copa America success. Nevertheless, his skill is undoubtable and he comes in at number three.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Piemonte Calcio (Juventus) – 93

The best-ranked player on FIFA 19, Ronaldo's rating drops one to 93 despite enjoying a solid season in Serie A. Cynics might suggest Juve's exclusivity deal with FIFA rival Pro Evolution Soccer has something to do with it.

1.Lionel Messi, Barcelona – 94

The world's best player comes in at number one with a rating of 94 after he enjoyed another spell-binding season on all fronts, impressing even though Barca failed in the Champions League.

James Rodriguez is set to start a Real Madrid match for the first time since May 2017 as Los Blancos welcome Real Valladolid in LaLiga.

Colombia international James spent the last two seasons out on loan with Bayern Munich, with his Madrid career seemingly over.

However, Bayern opted against triggering their purchase option and James has been integrated back into the Madrid squad with Zinedine Zidane's men having so far failed to offload him.

The playmaker slots into the midfield in place of Luka Modric after the Croatia international was sent off in Madrid's season opener last weekend – a 3-1 win at Celta Vigo.

James' last start for Madrid came in May 2017 and, having seemingly looked destined for the exit, he has a chance to prove himself once again to Zidane and his other detractors at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Gareth Bale found himself in a similar position to James during the close-season and came very close to joining Chinese side Jiangsu Suning, but that fell through and he is making his second successive LaLiga start.

The Wales winger could be in for a frosty reception from the notoriously vocal home support, however.

Madrid-owned Andriy Lunin is on the bench for visitors Valladolid.

Luka Modric says the stamp on Denis Suarez for which he was sent off against Celta Vigo was "an accidental action".

Real Madrid ran out 3-1 winners at Balaidos in their first LaLiga game of the season on Saturday despite Modric's dismissal.

The Ballon d'Or winner was shown the red card for the first time in LaLiga after catching Suarez early in the second half.

Modric was sent off after a VAR review, but after the game he used social media to protest his innocence.

"Sent off for an accidental action," he wrote on Twitter, "In life I would never intentionally make such an action on a player. Totally involuntary!"

However, Madrid captain Sergio Ramos understood the decision by VAR to show Modric the red card.

"Everything used to protect football is good," Ramos said when asked his view on the technology.

"Today the decision was against us. We ended up with one less man, I don't think Modric went in with bad intention but he arrived late and the referee had doubts.

"He spoke to the other officials and reached that decision. VAR's there to help us and if these decisions protect football then they are welcome."

Gareth Bale marked his return to the starting line-up with an impressive assist as Real Madrid survived a red card for Luka Modric to win 3-1 at Celta Vigo in their opening LaLiga fixture of the season.

The Wales star had been left out in the cold for large parts of pre-season following a collapsed move to China, but he was handed a start at Balaidos on Saturday and set up Karim Benzema for a 12th-minute opener.

Looking to capitalise on champions Barcelona's shock loss to Athletic Bilbao on Friday, Madrid added a stunning second goal through Toni Kroos, but only after Brais Mendez had a strike ruled out and Modric was shown a straight red card.

Zinedine Zidane started without any of his new signings, although the quality of his side's third goal - rounded off by substitute Lucas Vazquez - will offer hope of a far brighter 2019-20, despite them conceding late on through Iker Losada.

Madrid had lost back-to-back league matches at the end of last season, but they soon found their rhythm here as Bale turned his man inside out down the left and set up Benzema for a simple finish from four yards.

Celta felt there should have been a free-kick in the build-up and were further aggrieved in the final stages of the first half when Alvaro Odriozola was dispossessed by Denis Suarez and the ball fell to the feet of Iago Aspas, who was adjudged to be marginally offside when teeing up Mendez for a close-range finish.

Celta's hopes of claiming a point were boosted when Modric caught Suarez on the heel and was shown a red card following a VAR review.

Nestor Araujo forced Thibaut Courtois into a point-blank save but Madrid dug deep and scored a second thanks to Kroos' stunning strike from 35 yards, a minute after Benzema's header struck the post.

Vazquez rounded off a flowing move 10 minutes from time by drilling a good finish into the bottom-left corner, although Celta at least got a consolation through Losada's precise strike from a similar spot at the other end.

What does it mean? Familiar faces on show for Madrid

Madrid spent big during the close season in an attempt to bridge the gap to Barcelona, who finished 19 points clear of them last season.

Eden Hazard, Rodrygo Goes and Ferland Mendy all missed out through injury, though, while Eder Militao and Luka Jovic were named on the bench, so it was left to the old guard - not least Bale, Benzema, Kroos and Vazquez - to get the job done.

Bale makes his point

Zidane admitted on the eve of the game he was now "relying" on Bale and the forward did not disappoint on his return to the side. As well as setting up Benzema's goal with an impressive assist, he also helped out in a defensive sense.

Odriozola's blushes spared

Not helped by Courtois' pass, Odriozola was put under pressure and lost possession on the right. The offside flag came to the full-back's rescue that time, but it was generally a nervy display.

What's next?

Madrid welcome Real Valladolid to the Santiago Bernabeu next Saturday, while Celta host Valencia on the same day.

If Real Madrid want to sign Neymar, they may have to part with one of their young stars.

Neymar wants to leave Paris Saint-Germain and a return to Barcelona has been mooted for the world's most expensive footballer.

Madrid, however, are also eyeing Neymar but PSG have identified one Los Blancos Brazilian to replace their wantaway star.

 

TOP STORY – PSG ASK FOR VINICIUS AS PART OF NEYMAR DEAL

According to Spanish media, Paris Saint-Germain have asked for Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior to be included in any deal to send Neymar to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Neymar has been linked to former club Barcelona and fellow LaLiga giants Madrid as he looks to leave Paris.

PSG and Barca are yet to strike a deal, though talks are ongoing. In the meantime, sporting director Leonardo requested Brazilian youngster Vinicius in a potential deal with Madrid but it was swiftly rejected by Los Blancos, reports AS.

Marca, meanwhile, says PSG are keen for Vinicius and Luka Modric to be involved.

 

ROUND-UP 

- New signing Luka Jovic will not be leaving Real Madrid on loan, Bild says. Reports emerged on Wednesday that Jovic had failed to impress Zinedine Zidane following his €60million arrival from Eintracht Frankfurt. However, the Serbia forward is not set for a short-term move away.

- Inter want €80million for former captain and outcast Mauro Icardi, according to Tuttosport. Icardi has been deemed surplus to requirements at Inter following Romelu Lukaku's club-record arrival and the Argentina striker reportedly wants to join Juventus, while Roma and Napoli are believed to be interested.

- According to the Daily Mail, Alexis Sanchez is ready to quit Manchester United amid interest from Serie A. Having struggled to make an impact since his big-money arrival from Arsenal, Sanchez has been linked to AC Milan, Napoli, Juventus and Napoli.

- Staying at Old Trafford and the Mirror claims Victor Lindelof is set for a massive new Manchester United deal. Linked to Barcelona during the off-season, Lindelof is reportedly in line for a three-year extension. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail says United scouts passed on signing Sporting CP captain Bruno Fernandes.

- The Washington Post claims Mesut Ozil's agent was in Washington to meet with DC United on Wednesday. The MLS side have identified the Arsenal playmaker as a replacement for Wayne Rooney, who has agreed to join Derby County as a player-coach in January.

- AC Milan will resist offers for Suso and Franck Kessie as they want to keep the pair, reports Sky Sport Italia. Suso has been linked to Lyon, Sevilla and Roma, while Kessie rejected a move to Wolves.

Barcelona are still hopeful of bringing Neymar to Camp Nou, but Real Madrid's interest is rising as they give up on Paul Pogba.

Neymar, 27, is set to leave Paris Saint-Germain this close season, two years after joining the Ligue 1 champions from Barcelona for a world-record €222million.

While a return to Barca has been mooted, Madrid are also seemingly interested after accepting they are unlikely to land Pogba from Manchester United.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA HOPEFUL OVER NEYMAR, CONVINCED MADRID ARE INTERESTED

Barcelona are still eyeing a move for Neymar, but the LaLiga champions are convinced rivals Real Madrid are also chasing the Brazilian, according to AS.

The report says Barca believe the forward will definitely leave PSG, who do not want to loan or sell Neymar to them because of a fractured relationship between the clubs.

AS report that Barcelona feel PSG are still hoping Madrid will make a late bid for Neymar.

According to Globo Esporte, Real Madrid are ready to use Gareth Bale and Keylor Navas as part of the deal.

Barcelona want Neymar to publicly state his desire to return to the club and they will offer Philippe Coutinho to PSG as part of a deal, according to Sport.

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid's intensified interest in Neymar comes as they accept their chances of signing Pogba from Manchester United are "practically zero", according to AS, after the Premier League club failed to sign a potential replacement for the France international before their window shut.

Coutinho may not have returned to the Premier League, but Barcelona still want to see the playmaker depart. Sport say PSGJuventus and Bayern Munich are the most likely destinations for the former Liverpool star.

Luka Modric was reportedly set to be offered to PSG by Real Madrid as part of a deal for Neymar. However, the Croatia international's camp has told AS the midfielder is not leaving the Santiago Bernabeu.

- Despite giving up on Pogba, Real Madrid still need to strengthen in midfield. Ajax star Donny van de Beek remains the most likely option for Zinedine Zidane, according to AS, but they are waiting amid a potential move for Neymar.

- Manchester United opted against signing a replacement for Romelu Lukaku, who left for Inter. The Times report the Premier League club ended talks with Juventus over striker Mario Mandzukic due to the £14m (€15.2m) valuation being deemed too high. Borussia Dortmund are interested in the Croatian, according to Corriere dello Sport.

- Mario Balotelli is a step away from joining Flamengo. According to Gianluca Di Marzio, the Italian striker has reached a salary agreement with the Brazilian club, but work is still being done relating to image rights.

Zvonimir Boban has repeated Paolo Maldini's statement that AC Milan will not be able to sign Luka Modric from Real Madrid.

Modric, the 2018 Ballon d'Or winner, has been linked with Inter and Milan in recent months, although he appears set to stay in LaLiga.

Rossoneri technical director Maldini last month said the Croatia midfielder would be "perfect" at San Siro but the deal would not happen.

Following further speculation, Milan's chief football officer Boban reiterated the point.

"Twenty days ago, Paolo Maldini declared that Luka Modric will not be a Milan player," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"But since we continue to talk about it and write about it without any basis, I would like to repeat that the best player in the world of last year will not be our player.

"As far as I can see, he will still be in Madrid. Obviously, it would be great to have him, but this is the only truth."

Images have previously circulated of a young Modric in Milan colours, and Boban added: "Luka is a person and a player of the highest level.

"We thank him for his good wishes for next season and we are pleased that he has liked our club since he was a child, but it is right to clarify things – out of respect for our fans, too."

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