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Modrić Or Mandžukić: Who Will Be Harder To Replace?

September 11, 2019




The boys here at have been debating this heated topic for over a week now; since it was brought up on our Twitter page: @CroatianSoccer.



Who will be harder to replace? Luka Modrić or Mario Mandžukić?



The question is not, “Who was the better player?” or “Who had a bigger impact on the Croatian national team?” After all is said and done, and Luka Modrić joins Mario Mandžukić in retirement from the Vatreni – who will be harder to replace?



Mandžukić rode off into the sunset immediately after the 2018 World Cup – where he scored three goals – one of which was the extra time winner against England to send Croatia to the World Cup Final. Mandžukić was more than just your classic #9. He was tall. He was physical. He applied endless pressure on defenders. He nearly won every ball in the air.



Although Mandzo was better in the air than he was on the ground, he possessed intangibles for a striker in today’s game that drove defenses crazy. With his retirement from the Croatian national team, the Vatreni looked weak in two UEFA Nations League (UNL) matches against Spain and England following the World Cup. On top of that, Croatia were shutout twice in four UNL matches with Andrej Kramarić and Ivan Santini taking Mandzo’s place up top.



Currently in Euro 2020 qualifying, Croatia have dropped points against Azerbaijan and Hungary with Andrej Kramarić and Dinamo Zagreb’s Bruno Petković leading the way for the Croatian strike force. Although both strikers have faired well (at times) for Croatia, Mandžukić’s absence can clearly be felt. Mandžukić completed what the Croatian midfield started. Will manager Zlatko Dalić be able to find a way to generate more goals going into Euro 2020? Outside of Croatia’s 4-0 thumping of Slovakia, they have only scored six goals in four matches this campaign.


Mandzo and his impact can be felt from all sides this Euro 2020 qualification process.



Then there’s Luka Modrić. The 5’8″ Croatian midfield maestro, who put the Vatreni on his back during last year’s World Cup on his way to a historic Ballon d’Or win. He pulls all the strings for Croatia and Real Madrid in the middle of the field and keeps his team’s engine pumping like a finely tuned Rolls Royce. His dribbling, his sight, his passes down the field are all profound. And although Luka Modrić may only have nine more months in the famous red and white checkers, Croatia have replacements on standby. No one – of course – will be able to fill the shoes of Luka Modrić, but Mateo Kovačić (fingers crossed he begins to show his true talent) and the more midfield-aggressive Nikola Vlašić, will be much easier to replace Modrić (in my opinion) than anything Croatia currently has to replace Mandžukić up top from last summer.



Modrić or Mandžukić. Who will be harder to replace?



Ante Kvartuč
Posted By: Ante Kvartuč 54 comments

  1. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Both great players but in my opinion, Modric is harder to replace. His linkup play, clever passes, work rate, decision making, quick spurts…. will be very hard to replace.

    Mandzukic has his style of play that will be missed but there is more than one way to score goals. Mandzukic will be missed for his overall presence and work rate, intangible’s that are not easily noticeable. His timely goals were also a great asset to the team but overall we do have players that can score goals.

    This isn’t an easy topic. Two very valuable players that will be hard to replace.

  2. Morski Kurac says:

    Watching Mandzukic the past ten years there were matches where he was invisiable. He was a good player but not as clutch as people think. His own goal at the World Cup is haunting. Croatia has not produced a goal beast since Zlatan but he thought he was Swedish. In Sweden he is considered a Balkan Cigan. However, he did get to bang some Swede Byrds and even married one. Modric was a fantastic playmaker but not a great scorer either. So I think Modric will be missed the most.

  3. Horvat says:

    I think Mandzukic has already been replaced.

    Every player on the team is replaceable except for Modric. Without him we are not the same team.

    I really hope he does not retire after the Euros.

  4. vuki says:

    It depends what you mean by replace. Replacing them with a player who plays the same, or replacing them with a player of the same quality are two different things. You can’t train heart and Mandzukic had loads of it. He was the same as Olic in the way that he would run and run and would not be tired. His aerial presence was also HUGE, and that also came down to how much effort he put in. He always wanted to get to the ball. However, I would argue that Modric plays with just as much heart as Mandzo. Pay attention to Modric in these games like Azerbaijan when we don’t look as good and we say our players didn’t put as much effort. You can tell he is furious and for me, he always seems to be putting his best effort in, sometimes just doesn’t perform at his top quality which is normal. I was telling my friend how Modric is and always will be my favorite player because he’s always putting the effort in no matter what. At least that’s what it looks like to me. One example I put forward was the Madrid vs Ajax game where Ajax pounded them. Modric was in the picture for every goal that Ajax scored and all the Modric haters after he won the Ballon d’Or were saying it was his fault. While maybe he shared some blame, he was literally almost always the last man chasing the attacker. Why is that? Maybe because when the Madrid players let their egos get the best of him, Modric kept going and doing everything he could to try to win them the game. I would argue the same for Mandzukic as there have been many times where he is playing ST and somehow ends up being back at LB to power the ball off of the attacker and start the attack, but I can’t say Mandzukic is always giving more effort the Modric which is usually the argument I hear about how valuable Mandzukic was to us.

    As for quality, there is no denying Modric’s quality will be much harder to replace than Mandzukic. I think maybe some people are glorifying how good Mandzukic actually was. And before anyone tries to say I’m a Mandzukic hater, Mandzukic is my second favorite player of all time. I have like 4 Mandzukic jerseys from Bayern to Croatia. So basically, I would definitely argue Modric. Just because we have so many midfielders coming up doesn’t mean it will be easier to replace him. We don’t know how any of them will turn out, just like we don’t know how any of the striker talents will turn out.

  5. Eric says:

    Vuki, I agree with everything you said.
    I love Mandzo, he is a warrior and legend. What he lacks in skill, he makes up for in heart. Luka is simply irreplaceable and will be considered the best Croatian player ever for a long time.

    @Kurac: Zlatan is not Croatian.

  6. Eric says:

    When it comes to heart and effort, Olic is hard to match. He ran his ass off every game. I think Mario wouldn’t mind the comparison.

  7. Mr Simeonic says:

    LUKA MODRIC THE GRASS IS GREEN THE SKY IS BLUE WATER IS WET. MODRIC IS THE BEST EVER CROATIAN PLAYER. HE HAS WON ALL THE AWARDS BALON DOR GOLDEN BALL WORLD CUP. Its not a coincidence that Ronaldo started winning Champions Leagues at Real Madrid after Modric arrived and lead Croatia final

  8. CiganJeCigan says:

    Considering injuries and retirement isn’t an issue, which croatia team is better, the lineup against slovakia and azerbaijan, or this lineup:

  9. Maminjo says:

    Mandžo has all the intangibles that are rare to find in a forward. At the same time, he is missing some fundamentals.

    Modrić is missing nothing.

    He’s the ultimate midfielder. Has all the fundamentals and intangibles.

  10. cromiza says:

    Wish Da Silva never got injured, and saw more of him with company, (Mandzo Olic, & Modric).

    That is what we received, for ousting GB from the euro tournament.

    Srna’s boring predictable gopher killing low crosses,….. may they never be resurrected.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Nice to see Mario get the respect he deserves. Modric will be harder to replace…but boy are some people blind to how good of a player Mario is.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Mandzukic, was the ultimate big game player. The goal for Juve in the championship league final is the greatest goal ever scored in the finals period…yes better than Zidanes goal. Mario scored the biggest goal in Croatian soccer history against England. The man’s work rate and defensive ability was amazing for a striker. Mario was one of the best first lines of defense in football ever.

  13. Like Joey says:

    Mandzukic in my opinion is very underrated on this site with many of the people posting. Nice to see him recognized and looked at.

  14. Suba says:

    Mandzo will forever be remembered for sending me into a complete fit of delirium when he scored the winning goal against the englezis

    The happiest moment in my life by far after the birth of my children

  15. Croatianperson85 says:

    Modric hands down. Yes we have other good midfielders and less great forwards that can replace Mandza’s style of play, however Modric ran our mid, albeit with help.

    Just remember, as much as we think the individual awards can be bullshit at times, Modric is the first player to sweep them (MVP World Cup, FIFA player of the year, Uefa player and Ballon D’or) Nike made 2 signature shoes for him. Historically no one has won all of them in the same year (Ronaldo and Messi have split the awards). I don’t think we’ll have another player to do that for a while as much as I hope I am wrong.

    Mandza pissed me off often but on the right team with the right players he’s a good forward. There’s a reason why he was used the way he was in Bayern with Jupp and Juve with Allegri. Sad to see him and Raki both get the boot more or less and have to look for new clubs.

    I hope Modric, Mandza and Rakitic find good clubs to wind down their careers.

    Glad to see the site cleaned up a bit. Kudos Ante, hope you enjoyed Canada. Saw your vids creeping the women lol. All love over here.

  16. Bok says:

    Waste of time this question.

    You cannot replace Modric. Croatia will never have a better player or another player that win the baloon.

    mandzukic was a questionable starter for the WC and his job was in jeapordy to Kalinic.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Maminjo, you guys are being unfair with Rakitic. Ivan turned down Switzerland and way more money to play for Croatia, he had hooligans throw rocks at his vacation house with his children there. Ivan was pivatol in the world cup for us…his family received death threats when he turned down Switzerland. Ivan is a true Hrvat and if he leaves today deserves respect.

  18. The truth says:

    Been busy so just getting caught up

    I funny question

    With about as much merit as the idea to walk off the field in Ukraine

    It’s like Croatians have some kind of collective amnesia

    All anyone did was complain about biking when he was coach, then suddenly everyone wanted him back

    Mandzukic had his moments but often lead an anemic Croatian offense, particularly later in his repka career

    You talk about losing to hungry and tying Azerbaijan but let’s not forget about all of Croatiaa previous qualifying disasters that got 3 coaches fired

    Kramaric and petkovic have actually been fine. Both of them scored goals in this run that mandzukic never could have and those games likely would’ve been worse yet

    I always liked mandzukic, and he actually really surprised me to the upside in this past world cup

    But despite producing lots of midfielders (although not really anymore), Croatia won’t have another modric for 30 years most likely

  19. Maminjo says:



    But to show up for a few days in October is nothing for him.

    Considering the circumstances, if Modrić is injured and he’s still technically not retired from the National Team, it’s really no big deal to simply show up with the team… And it will decide if we qualify or not.

    He definitely deserves some criticism if he’s all aloof, and still indecisive about whether he wants to help us out or not.

  20. Tomas says:


    Death threats from the Swiss really? The Swiss care about cheese, chocolate, banks, and making Balkan jokes. Picking Croatia is what they all should do. It’s their duty. If not they deserve zero hospitality from us. That Stanisic kid who picked Germany should have his parents car tires deflated for that.

  21. Cromiza says:

    All the players, as our Genes of Stone are diluted across the Globe, from our ancestral lands, as China and EU buys up the empty vacuumed country, and Dubrovnik becomes Disneyland for the wealthy. What didn’t kill us made us stronger through all those years.

  22. Dannyj says:

    I went to slapovi krka again today
    Took my gf this time

    Such a beautiful place but so many freaking people still and it’s basically getting to off season
    It’s great the place is visited and money being brought
    But this country needs to be careful doesn’t lose it’s magical power and become just another tourist attraction

    Like come on the second hydro power plant in world
    Croatia we all know so much talent
    Got to get some industry back

    I’m neutral on trump as I’m Canadian and Just watch from a distance but we need some make Croatia great again

    There has to be some smart non corrupt fuckers left to lead the charge

  23. Mr Simeonic says:

    @Tomas Rakitic doesnt need to leave Barca they have got the sahovnica jersey this season just for him. All Cros need to buy this seasons Barcelona sahovnica jersey.

  24. Pero says:

    What kind of a stupid question is that? What kind of heated debate is even possible? Modric is miles ahead of Mandzukic on the national team. Mandzukic was useless in sooo many games in the past. Invisible at Euro2016. Useless in countless qualifiers. I love the guy but come on… this question is so stupid ,,,Modric is the golden ball winner

  25. Pero says:

    But what can you expect from a fake reporter who knows jack shiet about soccer and wanted the national team to walk off the pitch vs Ukraine. Fake fan, two faced arse

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