A valiant Al Ain side were eventually overpowered by the might of Real Madrid in the Club World Cup final.
Goals from Luka Modric, Marcos Llorente and Sergio Ramos plus a Yahia Nader own goal saw the Champions League holders cruise to a 4-1 win at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi with Tsukasa Shiotani pulling a goal back for the UAE champions.
Modric was at the centre of all of Madrid’s good play.
Here’s our analysis of his performance.
Modric has never been a shoot-on-sight kind of midfielder but he does have the technique to test keepers from range and exhibited that against Al Ain. He latched on to Karim Benzema’s lay-off well before opening up on his weaker left side and stroking the ball past Khalid Essa from the edge of the box.
He then struck a well-hit volley from the edge of the box from Toni Kroos’ corner. The Croat did well to control his effort and keep it on target, forcing Essa into a save. He doesn’t shoot often but when he does it’s usually special.
Kroos and Marcos Llorente were both tidy with their passing and recycled possession well but it was Modric who actually set attacks in motion with his forward passes. His link-up play with the front three was exceptional and he provided the assist from a corner for Ramos’ goal.
It’s hypercritical, but perhaps Modric didn’t have to be as advanced as he was on a few occasions. At times, he was the furthest man forward, playing on the shoulder of the last defender almost with no intention of running in behind. That said, he had plenty of cover to work with.
14th minute: GOAL – Benzema plays in Modric who opens up the angle and curls in with his left foot from the edge of the box.
40th minute: SHOT – Kroos pings his corner to the edge of the area where Modric meets it with a volley that is saved by Essa.
59th minute: KEY PASS – Modric and Benzema combine inside the box with a quick one-two. The Frenchman’s shot is saved.
78th minute: ASSIST – Modric’s outswinging corner is directed towards Ramos and the captain heads home to make it 3-0.
Modric has come under plenty of scrutiny after winning the 2018 Ballon d’Or with critics suggesting that he maybe wasn’t the most deserving of it following a poor start to the season. However, performances like this one only strengthens his defence.
He bossed the midfield, was the chief creative force, provided an assist and scored a sensational goal. There’s not much more you can ask of the 33-year-old. He’s starting to look more like his old self under Santiago Solari.
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