November 21, 2017

TACTICS COLUMN: WHY MODRIC IS REAL MADRID

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The wizardry Croatian midfielder did not seem as a huge contributor to the star studded Real Madrid team but the team’s downfall coincided with his injury
BY STEVE NJUGUNA

At the beginning of the 2014-2015 La Liga season Real Madrid were a force to reckon with. Despite a few slip ups here and there, they were into the race for the league, topping the table on several occasions and an impressive 3-1 win over arch-rivals Barcelona underlined their credentials, combined with a World Club Cup trophy in Morocco made them seem invincible.

Then their formidable midfield trio of James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric was all-star studded and one would be forgiven for thinking Luka Modric who has only 4 assists to his name this term was of no great benefit to the side. However, his thigh injury in late 2014 was a cause for concern as Real Madrid struggled to replicate the form they had earlier in the season as they seemed to concede more goals.

After his recovery in early 2015, it did not take him long to be injured again as on April 18th against Malaga, he sprained his ankle and was ruled out for a large part of the remainder of the season. This put Madrid in a fix as Modric had been played primarily as a deep lying play maker and it was considerably hard for his replacements to match his vision and wonderful passing .

His delicate balance between attack and defense could not be replicated by his counterparts Sami Khedira,Lucas Silva and Asler Ilarramendi to the extent that Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti had to shift his captain Sergio Ramos from defense to midfield in a bid to paper over the Modric sized hole in his midfield. This tactic worked against opposition who were taking an attacking approach but Ramos’ lack of passing range was evident against opposition who are tough to breakdown.

Ultimately, Real Madrid have had a dismal season coming 2nd in the La Liga ,getting kicked out of the Spanish cup and the UEFA champions league at quarter final and Semifinal level respectively. Modric may not be the only reason for their bad performance this season but he has been sorely missed.

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