Monday, June 21, 2021

Wonder Why Luka Modric is That Good? Because of Ivan Rakitic

Milos Markovic in Editorial, World Cup 12 Jul 2018

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Surrounding oneself with good people will make one a better person. Same goes for football.

In an environment filled with top-shelf footballers such as Mario Mandzukic, Ante Rebic, Ivan Perisic – and most prominently Ivan Rakitic – a world-class name of Luka Modric will only shine an even brighter light for the Croatian team.

The Real Madrid playmaker has it all.

Technique, discipline, eye for a pass and the ability to score great goals which – among other great assets – come forth at Real Madrid where the likes of Toni Kroos, Isco, Marcelo and others will help Modric spread his wings and inspire the team forward.

When talking about the international stage, however, it comes more than often that world renowned players never really get a chance to shine the same light for their national teams. Not that it’s the case with Luka Modric but take Robert Lewandowski as an example.

After 29 goals in 30 Bundesliga matches for Bayern Munich, the Poland forward led his side to Russia. Disappointing three matches afterwards and the 29-year-old was left disillusioned and disheartened over his team’s inability to make their presence known at the World Cup.

He tried everything to make it work – dropped back to collect balls as far as the centre of the park. He paced in, through and behind the enemy lines to create opportunities and elicit passes in key areas but still nothing. In two group stage defeats at the hands of Senegal and Colombia, respectively, and a Pyrrhic victory over Japan, Lewandowski failed to score a single goal.

Croatian Company

When it comes to the World Cup finalists Croatia, their biggest strength lies in togetherness. This idiocratic adjective used so widely in sport to cover up the lack of any other qualities to boast with will have its true meaning applied to this Croatian team, however.

As a band of players coming from the bulky Balkans and the country of little over 4 million people living in it under ailing economy, a demographic crisis and social turmoil, Croatian players find comfort in each other’s company, feed on it and on the positivism it produces.

Spice it up with undenyable football quality these player possess and you have a determined bunch, out to write history. And all on the back of their leader – Luka Modric. The Los Blancos playmaker is only one of many Croatian players who went through a rough, war-torn childhood. Forced to flee home at a young age, Modric – just as his friends in arms – were forced to grow mature well before their peers. There’s little you can throw their way hoping to scare them off and at this World Cup they’ve demonstrated it perfectly.

Back to Modric, once again, the Croatian orchestrator enjoyed a stellar competition in Russia. A silent first half against England was arguably one of his weakest performances but once the resolve kicked in, it all changed in the second.

Modric the Man

Modric was piercing through the England midfield where Gareth Southgate tactical transformation did its part to facilitate his run-ins and Modric is deservedly being touted to win the World Cup Golden Ball. The Croatia internationa is currently just behind Kylian Mbappe with 11/5 betting odds stacked in his favour.

Not only is he in line to be announced the tournament’s best player but Luka Modric is being backed to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or. Backed, by none other than his teammate and midfield partner Ivan Rakitic.

“It’s time for Luka Modric to have the Ballon d’Or. We’ll see if it happens.”, exclaimed Barcelona behemoth selflessly after the win over England.

And this simple sentence is there to perfectly illustrate all that Ivan Rakitic stands for and means in Croatia’s historic success. A player who works for the team and a man who puts everyone else ahead himself and his own needs.

Rakitic the Ruler

Ivan Rakitic covered the total of 14.541 km against England, the second-best distance in his team, behind Marcelo Brozovic. This piece of statistic will not pierce through our ears immediately but will stand much taller if you combine it with the fact that Rakitic played the England game under fever.

“My temperature was about 39°. I was lying in bed pulling strength to play and it was worth it. I would play the final without a leg if needed.”, he said after the win.

Spoken like a true leader – a silent one – who is digging deep to pull the last atom of strength after a gruelling season at his club. Namely, Rakitic has last night played his 70th match of the season with no other footballer playing more than him. And what a match that was. Calm and composed throughout another extra time game, Rakitic was everything Croatia needed in order to win.

It’s just like Slaven Bilic explained it – “Modric takes the eye but Ivan Rakitic is the heartbeat of this Croatia team”.

The unsung hero.


Milos Markovic

Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently and His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.



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