Modric ticking again at the perfect time for Real Madrid
After coming back from injury it took the Croatian some time to recover his form but he is back to his best just when Real Madrid need him the most.
Zinedine Zidane took Luka Modric off in the 93rd minute of Real Madrid’s 2-1 victory over Valencia to run down the clock but also to afford his Croatian midfielder an ovation from the Bernabéu after another vintage performance. Modric returned the applause in a gesture of reconciliation with his own football.
Modric influential against Valencia
Modric had found a teammate with 94 percent of his 67 passes during the game, a higher percentage than any other player on the pitch, breaking Valencia’s defensive lines with his runs into and around the area and recovering possession nine times. He also won 78 percent of his duels with the opposition, another high-score for the afternoon. It was Modric back to his best and that is extremely good news for Zidane.
At the age of 31 it has been an atypical season for the Croatian, who has been substituted in 12 of the 35 games he has played and has come off the bench for the final few minutes of three more. “Bit by bit I’m getting my form back, but it’s been tough…” he said after returning from an ankle injury that required surgery in October. In total Modric has missed seven games through injury this season, he has been left out of the squad four times and didn’t get off the bench in three games as Zidane has attempted to keep his key midfielder out of the firing line to recover his best form.
Alavés low point
During the match against Alavés Modric didn’t recover a single ball, providing a point of reflection for the Croatian. Since then he has gradually recovered his early season form. His statistics in 2016-17 are slightly below the last campaign – 88% pass completion to 91%; a pass every 1.1 minutes to one every 1.4; a ball recovered every 13.7 minutes to every 13.9 – but against Valencia he influenced the game and picked the opposition apart with his passing and movement. The Bernabéu’s ovation was in recognition that Modric is hitting his finest form at the perfect moment.
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