‘Extraordinary’ Luka Modric still pulling strings as Real Madrid make decisive move to La Liga title

One of the most devastating aspects of the pandemic’s impact on football is that fans are not able to cheer their heroes in person, especially those at the end of their careers.

Luckily for Real Madrid fans, although Luka Modric is 36 years old, the age at which most players hang up their boots, he shows no signs of slowing down – and neither is Los Blancos.

The Croatian midfielder received a standing ovation as he came off the bench near the end of Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid on Sunday at the Santiago Bernabeu.

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His pace of work, quality of the ball and his classy touches continue to enthrall Madrid’s supporters. His coach, Carlo Ancelotti, gave him an excited hug towards the end of the game.

“Modric, Modric, Modric,” Ancelotti said, when asked what he liked about the game. “Modric is phenomenal, what else can I say? I hug him and congratulate him because his game was phenomenal.”

It was Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio who scored, and Vinicius Junior scored for both, but Modric pulled the strings and gave Madrid a 13-point lead and 18 ahead of Barcelona.

Clinically and professionally achieved victory puts second-placed Sevilla leading La Liga by eight points, and now it will take a little longer to start. Although we’re not halfway through the season yet, the title race looks like it’s over in Spain, with the exception of Madrid’s demise.

That seems unlikely, with the Los Blancos having won 10 spit games as they went from strength to strength. They beat seven teams directly below them, including Barca in eighth place.

Modric remains a superstar despite his age, while midfield teammates Toni Kroos and Casemiro remain his perfect allies. Give a thought to Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga, two midfielders hugely promising but neither of them could bring down the incumbent trio, who won it all but refused to step aside.

Up front, Vinicius and Benzema are forming an attacking pair unmatched in Spain, while perhaps most impressively, the defense has acquired some stability.

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After the departure of captain Sergio Ramos and the departure of key midfielder Raphael Varane, Madrid was noticeably weaker. However, David Alaba slipped his feet into Ramos’ shoes – and his No 4 shirt – perfectly, leading the team on the pitch and attacking just as effectively as his predecessor.

Eder Militao has also come a long way and is a good platform for Alaba.

Behind them is Thibaut Courtois who is in terrible form during his career at Madrid. The Belgium international has never been more excited since moving from Chelsea in 2018.

He was undefeated at the Bernabeu on Sunday, notably pushing back from Antoine Griezmann and Joao Felix.

That solidity, which neither Atletico Madrid nor Barcelona has achieved, means Madrid are the favorites to win the title back from Diego Simeone’s Rojiblancos.

The defending champions started the first half better than Madrid, but Benzema’s volley gave the hosts the lead. The second half saw the story repeat, with Felix threatening several times before Asensio scored the second, the opposite of the playstyle.

Ancelotti’s Madrid knows how to pressurize and attack the goal. It did so in the Clasico against Barcelona, ​​with Alaba scoring a superb goal, and again against Atletico.

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“They are playing very convincingly,” Simeone admitted. “It’s the kind of football I like, with low form and speed. They are having a very good season.”

“Stay, Cholo,” chanted Madrid fans sarcastically, aware of how their side have outperformed their rivals this season. Simeone’s Atletico are unsettled, uncertain of themselves, lacking the usual intensity. In contrast, Madrid is solid, experienced and has the ability to measure and control games.

Modric is crucial to that, and in his first Madrid derby against the fans in almost two years, he showed them off.

“Pffffff,” Vinicius said, grinning after hearing his teammate’s name. “Modric is unbelievable. It’s like he’s 22. Without a doubt, he’s the best. ”

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