Real Madrid: 5 burning questions from a deflating loss to Alaves

Real Madrid, Eden Hazard (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Eden Hazard (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Luka Modric
Real Madrid, Luka Modric (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Can Real Madrid give Luka Modric a break?

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Luka Modric has been Real Madrid’s best player in the 2020-2021 season. The only other player who can truly contest Modric is fellow midfielder Fede Valverde, who is currently out with a fractured leg.

Modric has been wonderful this season. He’s scored wondergoals, embarrassed defenses with his dribbling, and controlled top teams like Barcelona and Inter Milan. Modric has made an impact in all facets of the game, and there is not a soul on Real Madrid who can match his consistency.

That he’s doing all of this at the age of 35 when many other world-class midfielder with his mileage have flamed out years sooner is unspeakably impressive. Modric transcends words on a page with his silky dribbling and ingenious passing.

But Modric cannot start every game. It is not fair for Real Madrid, who play twice per week in the thick of the season and won’t even have a winter break, to ask a 35-year-old center midfield workhorse to run himself into the ground. Modric is one of only three players who hasn’t been injured this season. The others? Young forwards Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Junior.

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Real Madrid cannot play with fire. Modric is too important. Real were wise to sub him early so that he would get some extra rest, but they recalled Martin Odegaard for a reason. They can afford to give Modric a full 90 minutes off. As hard as it is to play a game without Modric, the drop-off between Modric and Odegaard would not have made a difference against Alaves, who won even with Modric starting.

Rest Modric. It’s worth it to have him as close to 100 percent when you need him most.