June 29, 2018 / 3:27 PM / 18 days ago

Tomasson backs Eriksen over Modric in battle of the playmakers

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Denmark’s Christian Eriksen and Croatia’s Luka Modric go head to head in a World Cup last-16 clash on Sunday, and former international and current Denmark assistant coach Jon Dahl Tomasson is backing his countryman to come out on top.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - World Cup - Group C - Denmark vs Australia - Samara Arena, Samara, Russia - June 21, 2018 Denmark's Christian Eriksen looks dejected REUTERS/Pilar Olivares/File Photo

Tomasson - his country’s joint top scorer - hailed Modric’s range of skills and his four Champions League titles, but said he still favoured his Danish colleague.

“Eriksen is more decisive in terms of goals, assists and secondary assists,” the 41-year-old told reporters at the team’s training base on the Black Sea coast.

“He is a fantastic team player, he uses an enormous amount of energy, he runs a huge amount, both at a high intensity and in general,” he said.

Soccer Football - World Cup - Group D - Iceland vs Croatia - Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don, Russia - June 26, 2018 Croatia's Luka Modric in action REUTERS/Hannah McKay

FIFA’s statistics back up Tomasson’s assessment of Eriksen. The 26-year-old playmaker covered some 36 kilometres - more than any other player in the tournament - in the group stage while playing every minute of every game for Denmark, according to the data.

“I’ve scored a goal and had an assist, and that’s what it’s all about. I have participated, and we as a team have been able to progress from the group,” Eriksen told reporters.

Eriksen, who was named man of the match for his performance and his goal in the 1-1 draw against Australia, appeared relaxed ahead of the knock-out tie.

“I’m in a situation where there is a lot of focus on me. I helped the team against France when I had two chances as I should do, but they didn’t go in. Hopefully they will against Croatia,” Eriksen said.

Asked about the comparison between himself and Real Madrid’s Modric, Eriksen chose the diplomatic route.

“I don’t consider myself as being worse than him,” Eriksen said.

Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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