Luka Modric was distraught after Croatia were knocked out of Euro 2016 by Portugal on Saturday.
The technically gifted midfielder, outstanding for much of the tournament, couldn’t hold back the tears after the full-time whistle was blown at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens.
Modric was consoled by his Real Madrid teammates Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe, but one suspects that didn’t make a huge lot of difference. Croatia, with the players at their disposal, will feel they should have beaten Portugal and advanced to the quarter-finals.
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Two days on and the dust has now settled; Modric and his teammates have had a chance to collect their thoughts and assess their team’s overall performance at Euro 2016.
However, judging by his latest post on Instagram, Croatia’s exit still feels raw. Very raw.
Luka Modric's Instagram post
“You afforded to us the fan support that we will remember for a lifetime,” Modric wrote on Instagram. “You have given us words of indescribable sense of community, belonging and pride of playing for your country!
“I am infinitely sad that you’re not very happy with the result.
“With the hope that your fantastic support and fellowship will again be our strength, and in the next cycle we will give our best to give you the game or the result to thank you for supporting us.
“Until then, people sincerely THANK YOU.”
Croatia ultimately flattered to deceive
After finishing top of Group D - arguably the most competitive of all the Euro 2016 groups - above Spain, Turkey and the Czech Republic, Croatia were expected to make an impact in the knockout stages.
However, following a rather dour spectacle, Portugal found the breakthrough in the 117th minute - Ricardo Quaresma heading home from close range, to the complete devastation of all those connected with Croatia.
Cacic: Croatia didn't deserve to lose
Portugal boss Fernando Santos admitted his team were fortunate to advance to the quarter-finals, while Croatia head coach Ante Cacic echoed those same sentiments in his post-match press conference.
"We cannot say football is fair, we had many chances, we dominated for the whole match, so it was not a psychological problem," Cacic was quoted as saying by Sky Sports. "The best team doesn't always win and that happened tonight."
"Of course I am really sad, we had a great chance, the draw was perfect for us," he added.
"We knew we had a really open part of the draw against Poland, but that is tournament football. Portugal are a really strong team, I congratulate my players for their effort.
"I am sure Portugal are a high quality team with some experienced players and I think Portugal are the favourites now (to reach the final)."
Would Croatia have won Euro 2016 had they beaten Portugal in the last 16? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
Modric quotes translated by 101 Great Goals.