Conor Kelly from The Final Third discusses Luka Modric’s role in Real’s destruction of Bayern Munich last night…
One moment encapsulated the match. Luka Modric received the ball just outside his own penalty area, surrounded by three Bayern Munich players. Ordinarily, a midfielder in such a position would aimlessly pump the ball along the touchline or try a low percentage pass. Modric instead showed dexterity and slight of feet to pirouette in a circle away from his three pursuers and find Sergio Ramos in space. A snapshot from a truly astonishing night for the Croatian and Real Madrid.
In a wonderful team performance, it feels facile to pick out the performance of one player, but Modric deserves high praise. Dovetailing with the equally brilliant Xabi Alonso, the former Spurs man started counter-attacks, covered space and retained possession under constant pressure. His reading of play, range of passing, quick footwork and positional discipline were perfect last night. At the final whistle Cristiano Ronaldo made a point of celebrating with Modric, essentially showing his gratitude to the still underrated star of Madrid’s midfield.
Fan opinion of Modric has changed expeditiously. Just over a year ago, he was voted the worst player in La Liga during the first half of the 2012/2013 season. The tide began to waver in his favour when he scored a thunderous goal at Old Trafford against Manchester United in last year’s Champions League last-sixteen and, since then, he has seemed free of the burden of percieved failure, Modric has prospered and is now one of Carlo Ancelotti’s guaranteed starters.
Modric was always an outstanding player, but few could have envisioned him controlling a Champions League semi-final against Bastien Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos last season. It has been quite the comeback, proving that sheer class will overcome doubts and criticism. ‘Los Blancos’ head to Lisbon to participate in their first European Cup final in twelve years. Ronaldo will likely attract the attention of local and international press, and rightly so. He will publicly carry the expectation as la decima looms, but Modric will be right behind him, passing quietly and efficiently.
The silent assassin.