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Can Luka Modric channel Michael Jordan in his last dance with Croatia at Euro 2020?

Whatever happens later today with the climax of La Liga, Luka Modric can be proud of his efforts this season.

At 35 years old he has produced several outstanding performances over the course of the campaign to remind everyone of his enduring quality – not that anyone needed reminding.

His aged legs may have clocked up too many miles for him to excel week in, week out but the level at which Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro operate at as a collective is remarkable – their legacy as one of the greatest midfield units of their era is already assured.


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Modric has got plenty to show for his life’s work

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Modric has got plenty to show for his life’s work

The end of 2020/21 will bring only a fleeting respite for the cultured playmaker as Croatia will once again call upon their most-capped player to inspire a pursuit of major tournament success.

Modric came so close to delivering international football’s ultimate prize in 2018 when Zlatko Dalic’s spirited side were defeated by France in the final of the World Cup.

Croatia’s No10 was named as the best player of the tournament and was subsequently awarded the Ballon d’Or for his efforts in 2018 for both club and country.

Euro 2020 looks set to be Modric’s last dance and while it’s undoubtedly unfair to expect him to generate performances equivalent to those he produced in Russia three years ago, his talent ensures his compatriots are at least hopeful of witnessing similarly talismanic showings.

Like other classical midfielders before him, Modric cannot be accurately measured by spreadsheets.

The number of goals and assists he’s produced do not do justice to his actual impact on games – how can you quantify the value of control he was able to wrestle for Real Madrid during their Champions League dominance between 2014 – 2018?

Croatia’s source of inspiration for 15 years

AFP
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Croatia’s source of inspiration for 15 years

Then there’s the aesthetic quality of his football, the trivelas, the deftness of touch, the way he shifts the ball from one foot to the other with the swiftness of a magician’s deceptive hand.

If you were building a Frankenstein’s monster of a footballer, you’d take the outside of Modric’s right foot and blend it with Ricardo Quaresma’s.

While his class is unquestioned, the challenge facing him this summer is a considerable one.

Croatia have suffered from a bag hangover since the World Cup – they’ve won just 12 of their 27 games since losing to France in Russia.

They finished top of their qualifying group for Euro 2020 but made harder work of it than they would have liked after a defeat to Hungary and draws against Wales and Azerbaijan among some unconvincing wins.

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At the tournament itself, they will meet England, Scotland and Czech Republic.

Modric and co will fancy themselves against the latter opponents and will hope to open old wounds against the Three Lions.

With an ownership of 5.1%, 13 other Dream Team Euros midfielders are more popular than Modric at this stage.

At £3.5m he’s in the same price bracket as Gini Wijnaldum, Ferran Torres, Kai Havertz and several other tempting options.

Can Modric channel his inner Michael Jordan to make his last dance with Croatia a jig of celebration?

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