Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Modric embraces Ballon d´Or chants as Di Francesco backs Madrid star for award

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 20 Sep 2018

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Luka Modric admitted he would like to win the Ballon d’Or amid the Santiago Bernabeu’s support, while Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco said the Real Madrid midfielder deserves to be recognised.

Modric has been backed to claim the 2018 Ballon d’Or, having already received UEFA’s Player of the Year award after helping Madrid to a third successive Champions League title before reaching the World Cup final with Croatia.

The 33-year-old, who is on the three-man shortlist for FIFA’s The Best honour, claimed the Golden Ball for his exploits in Russia as team-mates and fans now back him to end Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s stranglehold on the Ballon d’Or.

After starring in Madrid’s 3-0 win over Roma in their Champions League opener in the Spanish capital on Wednesday, Modric said: “I’m very happy when I hear the Bernabeu singing about the Ballon d’Or, and the praise from my team-mates and fans.

“Of course I’d like to win it, but I am not obsessed or thinking about it every day. Individual awards are great if they come, if not, nothing changes.”

On his performance against Roma and Madrid’s display, Modric added: “I feel better, it’s to be expected after playing at the World Cup with so much mental and physical fatigue. I’m feeling better every day and I hope I can get back to the levels I showed last season, playing like tonight [Wednesday].

“Casemiro, [Toni] Kroos and I have been playing together for more than three years and I feel comfortable with them, but all the guys who come in are contributing a lot and helping the team. We’re thrilled with all our team-mates. We’ve been together for a long time and know each other with our eyes closed, but [Dani] Ceballos and other guys are doing a fantastic job.”

Roma head coach Di Francesco, meanwhile, believes Modric is worthy of taking out the Ballon d’Or following Russia 2018.

“Well of course the fans want a Real Madrid player to win the Ballon d’Or but my point of view is with what he did in the national team, he deserves one,” Di Francesco told reporters. “What he achieved in the World Cup was extraordinary and in Real Madrid his skills have always been good.

“In Real Madrid there are many players who may deserve the Ballon d’Or but as a matter of fact Real Madrid is a team that I really like, I love it. They never miss an opportunity whenever they have the ball. You do not know how to react and that is what happened to us.”

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