It was great to see Luka Modrić back in action for Real Madrid last Sunday in the game against Leganés but not so nice to see him leave right away to meet up with the Croatian national team for their forthcoming internationals.
It’s a headache for Zinedine Zidane and all the other club coaches who find themselves in the same situation. You only just get people back from injury and two minutes later they’re away on international duty. Exactly the same thing happened with Keylor Navas recently. He had only just returned to the team and within a few day was off with Costa Rica. It doesn’t give players who are coming back from injury much time for recovery; or more specifically it doesn’t give the clubs much of a chance when this happens.
It’s almost as if their return to the Real Madrid side doubled up as a fitness test for the international teams.
The next ten days would have perfect for Luka to regain his fitness before the Madrid derby; but instead both himself and Mateo Kovačić (as long as he’s fit after his own ankle injury) are likely to be facing Iceland on Saturday in a World Cup qualifier and then turning out against Northern Ireland in Belfast for a friendly four days before facing Atlético.
I know I’ve moaned before about the need for people coming back from injury to play in proper games as opposed to training ground matches but like Zinedine Zidane I’d much rather be in control of what happens and who the games are against.
Lining up for Croatia means Zidane has to rely on Croatian coach Ante Čačić not allowing Luka to overdo it on his return; but he’s hardly going to put Madrid’s needs before those of his country and you can’t really blame him for that. The national team coaches are always going to put their own interests first and if that means taking a chance with someone who has only just returned to fitness then they’re going to do it; the clubs will be expected to pick up the pieces when everyone returns afterwards.
In defence of the national teams, though, few players are going to turn down the chance to play for their country. With the Real Madrid support being extremely pro-Spain we are usually happy enough to see Real players turning out for ‘La Roja’ and openly admit that the chances of somebody picking up an injury is just something that goes with the territory.
We always seem to be commenting on how Spain should have more Real players in the starting eleven; but sadly, we can’t have it both ways. Spain face Macedonia this weekend in Granada in a World Cup qualifier followed by a friendly against England at Wembley on Tuesday; and although on the one hand we want more Real players representing Spain we complain when others of different nationalities are called up for their own respective nations.
The Real Madrid players who do turn out for Spain certainly demonstrate their pride in wearing the colours; but as we all know that backfires as well such as with Sergio Ramos’ knee injury from which he has still to recover.
It’s the chance you take when players are selected for their countries though.
Of course, by the law of averages Real Madrid are always going to be affected by this more than other clubs simply due to the number of players in the squad who are regularly involved at international level. It’s a common theme when the international breaks come around; but that’s the situation and we just have to accept it.