Following consecutive defeats by arch-rivals Barcelona in ‘El Clasico’ and Champions League elimination following an embarrassing 4-1 defeat by minnows Ajax, Real Madrid are going through one of their most difficult phase in over two decades. Recently, Los Blancos’ key midfielder Luka Modric took to Twitter to express his emotions over the same. The Croatian international promised the fans that the club will bounce back after the recent losses.
“Most difficult week of my career. Success is not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall,” Modric posted.
Heading into the 2018-19 season, Modric most likely did not expect everything to come to an end like this. He had just led his national team to the 2018 FIFA World Cup final in the summer which resulted – after a great effort on the Croatians’ part – in a loss against France.
Despite losing the final 4-2, Modric’s dazzling World Cup performance was rewarded with the Golden Ball for the best player of the tournament and later in the year he collected another individual trophy – the 2018 Ballon d’Or.
Modric, thus, became the first player to end the dominance of Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo – who joined Juventus in a surprising summer transfer from Real Madrid – and Argentina and Barcelona star Lionel Messi. Before Modric won the Ballon d’Or, Messi and Ronaldo had been alternating control of the trophy since 2008.
However, Madrid’s season has not shaped up to be what Modric and his teammates wanted. The club has been as low as ninth in La Liga after a 5-1 defeat by archrival Barcelona on October 28.
Nonetheless, Madrid under the new leadership of Argentine coach Santiago Solari, began to win and by late February the team was in third place and playing well in the Champions League and the Spanish Cup. And then came last week.
Over the course of a week, Madrid lost three games at home, possibly dooming the club to end the season without a trophy.
The side lost two matches to Barcelona, the first of which put the team out of the Spanish Cup, while the second loss ended Madrid’s chance to win the La Liga this season.
Another defeat against Ajax ended the Spanish side’s Champions League campaign.
After hoisting the Champions League trophy a record 13 times, Madrid now finds itself eliminated from the Champions League in the round of 16 knockout stage, for the first time since 2010.
Before the Champions League match, the squad held a closed door meeting, on which Modric refused to comment, saying: “I cannot say what we have talked about, but we have talked. When something goes wrong we have to talk as we have done, as a family.”
He and his teammates must look at the reality of not being champions this season in any of the two tournaments – Spanish Cup and Champions League – or the La Liga, that matter in Madrid.
It will likely take some time to absorb the defeats, but the Madrid leadership needs to make definite decisions on how to retool the team.