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'Ice cold' Luka Modric now Real Madrid's second most important Galactico

FourFourTwo's James Maw pays tribute to the Croatian schemer we ranked the 18th best footballer in the world in 2014...

http://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/ice-cold-luka-modric-now-real-madrids-second-most-important-galactico



You'll no doubt recall that, just months after joining Real Madrid from Tottenham in the summer of 2012, Luka Modric was named La Liga's biggest transfer flop of the year by Madrid-loopy sports daily, Marca.

What you may have forgotten is that Modric also started slowly at Tottenham - and came in for some more harsh criticism.

One article published in The Guardian three months after his arrival in England went as far as to label him a 'misfit' after his and Tottenham's slow start to the season, citing Arsene Wenger's reported belief that the Croatian was 'too lightweight' for the Premier League.

Given the circumstances, it was no surprise Modric initially struggled in N17. He spent his early days at White Hart Lane as a No.10, before being shifted out onto the left wing to accommodate, of all people, Wilson Palacios. There were flashes of brilliance and the odd sign of of player who could eventually dictate matches, but in general his first year in England was a frustrating one. Both Juande Ramos and Harry Redknapp were seemingly reluctant to throw the wiry 23 year old into a Premier League midfield battle.
Versatility a blessing and a curse

"His versatility was probably a blessing and a curse," Modric's former Spurs team-mate Tom Huddlestone tells FourFourTwo. "He was that good that he had to play out of position for a bit."

To compound his exasperation, Modric was then force to sit out four months of the following season after fracturing a bone in his leg after a roust challenge from Birmingham's Lee Bowyer.

He returned in December, shortly before a chain of events that would ultimately prove highly beneficial for Modric, his team-mate Gareth Bale, Spurs, and later Real Madrid. An injury to left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto saw the then 'cursed' Bale given a rare run in the first team. Having finally experienced a Premier League victory, the Welsh youngster was kept in the side upon Assou-Ekotto's return, bumped up to left wing. This meant Modric, finally, was entrusted with a central midfield role. He didn't let his seemingly skeptical manager down.



"Every team [Modric] went to, he needed some time to make the players trust him," Slaven Bilic, who worked with Modric during his six years in charge of the Croatian national team, tells FFT. "He doesn't have any attitude like 'OK, I am Modric, now give me the ball!' This is a positive thing because it means all of his team0mates love him; Croatia, Tottenham, Real Madrid - everybody loves him."

The main reason Modric's team-mates love him is that he's always there for them - in a literal sense. Whichever player has possession of the ball at any given moment, he can be certain Modric won't be far away - always presenting himself as an option for a pass, or making a clever movement to create space for the man in possession to exploit.

The fact his industry is so rarely cited is testament to the understated way with which Modric goes about his business. He glides around the pitch with the minimum of fuss, never looking flustered, never looking like the game is passing him by. Although 90% of what Modric does with the ball is pleasingly simple, the rest is dazzling brilliance. He has an uncanny knack of nipping into the tightest of spaces, then nipping back out again with the ball at his feet. His range of passing is almost unrivalled.

Ice cold and calm under pressure

"The main difference between Luka and most other players is his ability to pass the ball with the outside of the boot," says Huddlestone. "He's actually good with both feet, although back then [at Tottenham] he tended to use his right a lot more. The way he manipulated the ball and his first touch - whatever situation he was in - was unbelievable. He's just ice cold and calm under pressure - he manages to get out of any situation and keep the ball."

Dictating play at Tottenham is one thing, running the show at the biggest club in the world is another altogether. After the aforementioned stuttering start in Madrid, Modric's influence on Los Blancos has developed to the extent that it could quire reasonably be argued he was the second most important 'Galactico' after Cristiano Ronaldo. Now Madrid fans sing his name - something that doesn't happen at the Bernabeu for your average playmaker.

When the playmaker made his move from north London to the Spanish capital, some question whether he was worth the £30 million outlay. His relatively sparse numbers when it comes to goals and assists would generally be the root of the argument, but to argue this is to overlook the fact Modric is master of the 'hockey assist' - the pass before the pass. He may have only created two of Ronaldo's bucketload of goals this year, but the seemingly hard-to-please Portuguese forward seems more than a little satisfied with his team-mate's contribution to the cause.



"He is one of our key players," Ronaldo said back in April. "He's showing the best football of his career this season. Not only playing fantastically but to do so continuously, in Spain, for this club is not easy. He is a modest and humble guy. We get on really well."
Although he sometimes looks like he'd struggle to welly a ball hard enough to break a pane of glass, Modric is no weakling.

"He doesn't mind a tackle and if people want to try and kick him," says Huddlestone. "He's quick enough and clever enough to get out of the way. But equally, if he does get kicked, he's happy to take it and get on with it and just keep playing his football."
"He's a player who makes others better," Besiktas boss Bilic adds. "They all benefit from him being in the team. He's not selfish, he's playing for the team.

"In my opinion, he became one of the best players in the world. He's got everything, he's a complete player; good in defence, good in offence - it looks like he was born with the ball at his feet. You'd think he has rear-view mirrors because he can see almost every angle on the pitch."

Ironic, given over the past five years, Modric has barely looked back.
 

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MIDFIELD MAESTRO IS MISSED MORE THAN EVER

'Los Blancos' long for Modric

http://www.marca.com/en/2015/01/17/en/football/real_madrid/1421485672.html



Everybody at the Bernabéu is constantly after updates from the club medical staff, from the directors' box to the supporters sitting at the top of the fourth tier. Everyone is desperate for good news about Luka Modric, whose presence on the pitch is more and more missed with each passing day.

The problem is that Modric's return to action is not on the cards in the immediate future. As the midfielder put it, "I'm doing well, but there's still a way to go". The time frame that the Croat mentioned on Thursday indicates that he does not expect to return before March, when the Champions League quarter-finals will be in full flow.

The 29-year-old's recovery is going well. The stem-cell treatment that he underwent in Vitoria accelerated the healing of the injury and his trip to Antwerp allowed him to step foot on grass once again, raising his spirits and boosting his confidence.

Time has shown that there is no direct replacement for Modric in the current Real Madrid squad. The Croat can carry the ball forward seamlessly with his tight control, get past opposition players and spread the play effectively. He performs the role unlike any other, and provides the defence with much-needed protection while also helping relieve pressure.

Modric continues to work hard on his recovery while trying to transmit an air of calmness and emphasise the need not to rush his comeback. The former Tottenham star is frustrated at currently being unable to help his teammates out on the pitch, but hopes to be back in time for the business end of the campaign. Carlo Ancelotti hopes that the Croat's return will feel like a new signing and will provide a huge boost to his side as they look to enjoy success in both La Liga and the Champions League.
 

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Luka Modric's experimental treatment explained

http://www.managingmadrid.com/2015/1/22/7870661/luka-modric-treatment-muscle-injury




There's always an exception to every rule and in Real Madrid's case this is Luka Modric. After writing a few weeks ago about how Madrid players rarely seem to 'go outside of the club' for diagnosis or treatment, Luka made a trip to Vitoria in Pais Vasco for a consutation with Dr Mikel Sanchez, an orthopaedic consultant specialising in Stem Cell and Platelet Rich Plasma treatment. Additionally, it had been reported that Luka also made an earlier trip to Germany for a consultation with Dr Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt; the Bayern Munich and German national team doctor. Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt is well known in football thanks to his speciality for homeopathic medicine; but particularly for pioneering an injection treatment involving the injection of calves' blood into injured tissues.

As I understand it, the trip to Munich was made at the request of the Croatian FA, who were represented at the meeting with Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt, along with a delegate from the Real Madrid medical services. The whole episode started back in late 2014 when Modric sustained a partial tear of his thigh muscle while playing for Croatia against Italy in a Euro 16 qualifying game. Croatian team coach Niko Kovac blamed Real Madrid for the injury; stating at the time that Madrid players were playing too many games and being worked too hard. As a result, an opinion was sought from Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt, although it remains unclear who actually instigated the request to take an opinion from the German doctor.

It is not unusual for National Federations to request an input into the medical care at club level of national team players, and some pressure may well have been brought to bear on Real Madrid by the Croatian Federation. In the past, the high-profile doctor has been visited regularly by a host of elite footballers and has become renowned for his treatment techniques which centre on administering injections of a serum derived from calves' blood; to the extent that club doctors in other countries have also attempted to imitate and practise this technique. In addition to top players, athletes including Usain Bolt, Kelly Holmes, Linford Christie, and U2 musician Bono have all visited the Bayern club doctor over the past few years.

Players in general are always happy to try any forms of treatment - unusual or otherwise - if they feel that these treatments might have the potential to get them back on the pitch faster than the normal time scales for injury. The horse placenta treatment tried unsuccessfully by Diego Costa is a classic example of how players will try anything if they are desperate enough to play. If a few weeks here or a few days there can be saved through utilising these 'alternative' methods then it is generally accepted within the game that most players will be prepared to give these methods a try.

Dr Mikel Sanchez in Vitoria has specialised for several years in the development of stem cell therapy involving Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP). This form of treatment has a scientific foundation and although trials are continuing into it's effectiveness, the techniques of PRP /stem cell therapy are becoming more and more used in modern medicine, particularly with top level athletes. Dr Sanchez counts the tennis legend Rafa Nadal - a massive Real Madrid fan - among his many clients and Nadal himself has undergone this form of treatment not too long ago. In other sports, Canadian Olympic figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond and several American Football players are also reported to have benefitted from having this particular treatment in recent years as the concept has become acceptable and is readily available world-wide.

Basically, PRP treatment involves taking a certain amount of blood from the athlete concerned and spinning it in a centrifuge. Human blood consists of red and white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. The centrifuge enables separation of the blood into the different components which allows for the red and white blood cells to be removed, leaving the platelets and plasma. After separating the blood cells initially, a second separation is then required to concentrate as many platelets as possible into the plasma; and this is then injected back into the athlete at the injury site. This in turn accelerates the healing process for musculoskeletal injuries.

Damaged muscle tissue begins with clotting in the early stages and once that stage has passed, growth factors are then released which stimulate the synthesis of collagen, which is the matrix of connective tissue such as muscles, ligaments and tendons. PRP includes additional growth factors which are believed to stimulate tissue repair and have been shown in various studies to enhance the different phases of healing. Because the platelet-rich plasma is derived from the athlete's own metabolism, no additional substances are injected and the treatment is designed to enhance the body's own healing process.

With a severe musculoskeletal injury involving a partial tear of soft-tissue structures likely to take an average healing time of 12 - 16 weeks, Modric will have been desperate to get back to playing without delay, and will no doubt have explored the ins and outs of the procedures involved before conmmiting himself to the care of Dr Sanchez. It is not completely clear who actually made the final decision before proceeding with the treatment; if the decision was taken purely between Real Madrid and Luka Modric, or whether the Croatian FA had any influence on Modric's thinking.

As with all injuries, though, once the medical input from the doctor has been completed, the onus then falls on the rehab staff to deliver in a practical sense. A torn muscle, ligament or tendon needs adequate healing time in the early stages before rehabilitative techniques can be employed which stress the injured structures, in this case the thigh, and it is has been during this early stage that the PRP treatment has been applied. All injuries need proper healing time and by going down the PRP route, Luka Modric will have been hoping to minimise this healing period in order to allow for the more active rehab to take place as the injury recovers and the thigh becomes stronger.

Having passed through the early and recovery stages, Modric is now reported to be running well and has returned to Valdebebas; where a recent MRI scan is reported to have shown good progress. However, a part of his rehab has also been taken outside of Madrid in addition to the stem cell treatment. Modric has just spent a couple of weeks in Antwerp, progressing his running under the watchful eye of physical therapist Lieven Maesschalck, a rehabilitation specialist well known to Mikal Sanchez. The doctor and Maesschalck have worked together before and he is obviously a trusted member of Dr Sanchez' medical network. I understand that the invitation for Luka Modric to spend a couple of weeks supervised training at Maesschalck's clinic in Antwerp came as part of the overall package included in Mikel Sanchez' treatment; and that this aspect of the rehab has taken place once again with the knowledge of the Real Madrid medical team.

The key period for Modric is now approaching as he progresses towards the football-related aspect of his injury rehabilitation. In order to reach a level of fitness appropriate to play at first team level, he will need to satisfy Madrid's medical staff (not to mention Carlo Ancelotti and the coaches) that his recovery is complete. People keep talking about this date and that date for a return to play, but the harsh reality is that Luka Modric must be able to be 100% confident of his ability to perform repeated sprints time and time again in simulated match situations in training before a return to play can even be considered. In addition to the fitness element of the game, working with the football is an even greater priority.

Kicking the ball, running and shooting all have a nasty habit of resulting in further injuries during the return to play stage if the leg muscles aren't strong enough and the evidence shows that the risk of repeated or recurrent injury is greatly increased during the first two weeks back in action. There is nothing worse than a recurrence of the same injury following a long lay off so the most important thing is to ensure that the risks of this happening to Luka Modric are kept to an absolute minimum through careful planning.
 

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LUKITAAAAAAAA!!!! yaaaay! :yess::wee::clap:
 

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'Madrid aren't the same without Modric' - why Luka's return is such a big boost for Ancelotti




ANALYSIS: Former Real and Croatia midfielder Robert Jarni tells Goal his former club have missed the 29-year-old, but says they should avoid rushing him back to action

Finally some good news for Real Madrid. After their recent derby disappointment at Atletico, controversy surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo's birthday celebrations and fluctuating form in recent weeks, coach Carlo Ancelotti received a big boost on Thursday as Luka Modric returned to training.

Modric picked up a thigh injury on international duty with Croatia on November 16 and has been sidelined ever since, missing Madrid's participation in the Club World Cup late last year, the Copa del Rey quarter-final against Atletico and a number of Liga matches as well.

Madrid made light of his absence initially, winning their next nine games to end 2014 with a record 22 straight victories in all competitions, culminating in the Club World Cup crown in Morocco on December 20.

But without the former Tottenham midfielder, Real's performances paled in comparison to the fantastic form which had seen them beating everyone else - including Barcelona in a 3-1 win at the Bernabeu - so convincingly through most of September and October.

"Luka has demonstrated his class at Madrid," former Real and Croatia midfielder Robert Jarni told Goal. "He has won everyone over with his quality and his attitude. Without Luka, it's not the same Real Madrid."

With Modric in the team, Madrid won 13 games prior to his injury, lost three (two against Atleti, one at Real Sociedad) and drew one (at home to Diego Simeone's side in the Supercopa), scoring 51 and conceding 14. He sat out the 5-1 home victory over Elche and the Copa clash against Segunda B side Cornella, which Real won 4-1.

Without him, Madrid have won 16, lost three (two more against Atleti, the other at Valencia) and drawn one (also at home to Simeone's side), scoring 50 and conceding 15.



The record is similar. However, much like Barcelona's Andres Iniesta, it is impossible to judge the influence of Modric on stats alone. With his intricate passing, driving runs to carry the ball forward, his ability to operate in tight spaces and his knack of setting the tempo for his team-mates, the Croat gives Madrid a creative outlet they have been badly lacking in recent weeks.

"He is a very competitive player and he is special because he sees everything in his head," Jarni said. "He makes the others play, he sets the rhythm - he knows when to accelerate the play and when to slow it down. That's what makes him so important."

Indeed, while summer signing Toni Kroos took the plaudits for Madrid's fine form late last year along with Isco's introduction and Cristiano Ronaldo's red-hot streak in front of goal, few mentioned Modric. In his absence, however, Ancelotti's side have failed to hit the heights that made them favourites for La Liga and the Champions League in the final months of 2014.

"It takes time for a team to adjust without a player like Luka and Madrid have struggled to recreate that form they showed earlier in the season," Jarni said.

Now that he is back, though, Ronaldo in particular is likely to be a big beneficiary. With Modric in the team, the Portuguese netted 19 of his 37 goals (in just 16 games) as he put together his best scoring sequence of the season.

"With Luka or without Luka, Madrid have so much quality," Jarni added. "It's hard to say whether Ronaldo is affected by Modric being out, but it's true the team were playing better as a unit when he was fit."

Madrid now hope Modric will be back to full fitness and firing on all cylinders in time for the Clasico at Camp Nou on March 22, but Jarni says the midfielder must not be rushed back into action.

"Only the player himself knows how he is," the 46-year-old said. "If he is brought back too soon, it could do more harm than good and he could end up with a worse injury than the original one.

"Madrid need Luka - but he has to be ready."


http://www.goal.com/en/news/1717/editorial/2015/02/20/9086752/madrid-arent-the-same-without-modric-why-lukas-return-is
 

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fret not Madridistas, the Savior returns to the pitch tomorrow! :yes:

don't forget his late corner / assist in Champions League last year, without which no Decima. he will be triumphant again this season, you heard it here first! :thumbsup:
 

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He may, team won't be.
Physically shot
 

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You could immediately see the effect of his presence. His passing range and movement, his ability to keep the ball in tight spaces are just something else. A couple of times he passed the ball to a teammate who was right in front of Schalke's box. Once he dribbled right to the edge of the box too. This is exactly what was missing in recent months, to just get in front of the opposition's box from where the attacking players can do damage. The pass before the assist. :thumbsup:
 
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