Voting for France Football's Ballón d'Or award closes on November 9 and Sunday's Clásico is the last big game for Madrid's Croatian star to prove his worth.
Real Madrid's Luka Modric will play his sixteenth Clásico against Barcelona on Sunday. However important the rest have been, this one will have a special significance with the added incentive that it could prove decisive in him being awarded the 2018 Ballon d'Or award.
Clásico could confirm Golden Modric
The Croatian won this year's FIFA 'The Best' award and is certainly one of the favourites to break the decade-long dominance of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the Ballon d'Or. The voting for the individual prize awarded by France Football is already open and will end on November 9th after which the counting begins. Despite a disappointing league campaign for Madrid, Modric collected a third consecutive Champions League title in May before leading his nation to the World Cup final in Russia (where he was deemed Player of the Tournament).
The 2018/19 LaLiga campaign for his club has been less than spectacular so far and therefore many people see Sunday's game at the Camp Nou as an opportunity for the midfielder to show the world his true merits. It is the final big game before the voting closes.
Griezmann threatens Modric crown
With those with the voting responsibility looking at the calendar year for this award (rather than a particular season, and without the final two months of the year, it should be noted) Modric's continental and international performances had him virtually nailed on to succeed Cristiano. However, his disappointing start to this season has changed some opinion with Atlético Madrid's French striker Antoinne Griezmann catching him up with many bookmakers. The Europa League winner added a World Cup winner's medal to his growing collection of accolades and has been speaking out about why he is deserving of the individual trophy.
A starring role in El Clásico could swing the decision in Modric's favour. After that, the encounters for Los Blancos will gain minimal media coverage, and Lopetegui will almost certainly rest him for the Copa del Rey clash in Melilla, leaving just Valladolid and Viktoria Plzen.
Unfortunately, however, the Camp Nou is not a happy hunting ground for the diminutive Croatian. He has only emerged victorious from there on one of his five visits. That was on April 2, 2016, when Piqué, Benzema and Cristiano were on the scoresheet. Madrid are said to be in crisis. Many say that Lopetegui is on the verge of being replaced. A win at the home of their bitter rivals and a starring role from Modric could see a number of narratives change for the better at the club.