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Real Madrid veteran raring to go after World Cup break: “Ready for new battles”



Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Despite being 37 years old, Luka Modric is showing little signs of slowing down. The midfielder had been a regular starter for Real Madrid in the first half of the season and played each game for Croatia during the World Cup, leading the team to a third-place finish.

Now back at Real Madrid, the midfielder featured from the bench in the Merengues’ 2-0 win over Real Valladolid on Friday night.

But in an interview with Croatian publication Sportske Jutarnji, Modric revealed that he had informed Carlo Ancelotti that he wanted to start on Friday even though he had returned to training just a day before the match against Valladolid.

“I joined the team on Thursday, I was really happy when I saw all the boys and people from the club after a long time. We are very close. Coach Ancelotti asked me how I was, I told him that I would like to start immediately,” he said.

“Of course, in the first game in Valladolid, he told that I would be on the bench and gradually get back into the rhythm. No problem, whatever is needed – I am here, available and ready for new battles and challenges,” Modric added.

When asked if he was feeling any fatigue after the World Cup, the veteran midfielder, who is in the final year of his contract, insisted that he was feeling more mentally tired, as he said:

“Well, I feel a bit of a burden during these months of intense pace, but nothing terrible. I needed to renew my energy more psychologically, and less physically. I already felt at the end of the short rest when I caught myself thinking that I was looking forward to returning to training, competition.”

On whether he expected it to cause a problem for him or Real Madrid in the latter stages of the season, Modric said: “No, I do not expect any later problems from this World Cup drill. I hope that everything will be normal in the spring.

“This is half the season after all, we’re not spent except for the short-term intensive month of the tournament. One quickly recovers from all that, at least I feel that way.”

On how he spent the period of rest between the World Cup and the season restart, Modric replied: “Yes, yes, I rested for a good week. I had a great time with my family, separated from everyone and everything. I needed it very much, and so did they.”

“During that week of rest, I recharged my batteries, but I didn’t relax completely. It’s impossible, the season is in full swing. Therefore, I did three or four training sessions according to my program to maintain my tone. It was good for me.”

On Croatia’s successful run in Qatar, he said: “We played very good football, we were solid and compact. However, the key thing for me was that togetherness and fighting spirit, the character of warriors who never give up.

“That’s what stands out to us the whole world, that mentality, which even much bigger and more powerful ones fail to have from us. Without such virtues in big tournaments, you can’t do anything.”

The midfielder also spoke about the amazing reception he and the Croatian national team received in their homeland after their third-place finish in the World Cup, stating that such moments are what make the sport a ‘miracle’.

“We feel the sincere love of our people, they love us and are firmly with us. They are our strength and motivation. What good are all the trophies and awards if you have no one to share that happiness with,” he said.

“When we see all these people who are truly happy because of the national team’s victories, you best understand the meaning of what we do. And you immediately want a new welcome. Sport is a miracle, football is a miracle…”

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid have made Man City defensive target a top priority for the summer



Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

Although Antonio Rudiger has had success since joining Real Madrid last summer, the club are in need of more depth and players that can form the backbone of the defensive unit in the years to come.

As part of their plans, Real Madrid are prioritising a move for Josko Gvardiol in the coming summer, reports 90 Min.

The outlet suggests Gvardiol will be one of the most wanted prospects in the market, with both Real Madrid and Manchester City eyeing a move for the Croatian international come the end of the season.

Formerly of Dinamo Zagreb, Gvardiol has enjoyed immense success since his move to the Bundesliga in 2021. He has impressed onlookers with his skill, organisation and discipline, which, coupled with his versatility, make him an appealing target for any European giant.

Gvardiol was also one of the top performers at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, helping Croatia finish third in the competition. His performances have not gone unnoticed, with Real Madrid among the clubs who have been keeping an eye on the defender for a while now.

However, signing Gvardiol will be a tricky task for Los Blancos. The player still has a long-term contract at Leipzig and could cost up to €85 million, as reported by 90 Min. Not to mention, the competition from Man City could be significant.

Real Madrid have no shortage of alternatives, though, with the club notably closely monitoring Portuguese defensive whizkid Antonio Silva, among others. So it will be interesting to see how the Spanish giants approach the market in this coming summer.

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