Real Madrid vs. Eibar: 3 takeaways from an excellent 2-0 win

Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Luka Modric
Real Madrid, Luka Modric (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images) /

Luka Modric thrives in deeper role again

Luka Modric played a deeper role in the middle of the park in Real Madrid’s last Champions League fixture against Atalanta. He put together a midfield performance for the ages, recovering the ball at a high rate while filling in for Casemiro, ensuring that Real’s defensive solidity and activity did not suffer a major drop-off without the world-class Brazilian.

On Matchday 29 vs. Eibar, Real Madrid did not have Toni Kroos in the starting XI, though Kroos would replace Modric later in the match. So Modric had to play a deeper role again, but, this time, the priority was on ball retention and progressive passing as a deep playmaker vs. ball-carrying and defensive work.

Modric was spectacular, which should come as no surprise. He did his usual dribbling out of tight spaces, but it was most impressive to see how he filled the Kroos role in a different way by using his unique skills. The Croatian icon would pick up the ball deep in his own half, beat a couple of defenders, and then spring the ball wide, usually to Lucas Vazquez in space. He’d often collect the ball in a tight space from a teammate and then immediately make a progressive pass to an open teammate.

We saw Modric start attacks with dummy moves and embarrass defenders with his movement on and off the ball. Marco Asensio deserves to take center stage as the Man of the Match, but Modric was also incredible on Saturday afternoon. The stat sheet does not do justice to how well he played.