After a huge loss to Sevilla and difficult draw against neighbors Atletico Madrid, Julen Lopetegui’s men were looking to bounce back in Moscow, but just the opposite occurred. CSKA left everything on the field— blocking passing lanes, defending deep, and proving to be resourceful with the ball on the counter. Nikola Vlasic was one of the stars of the night, capitalizing on Toni Kroos’s poor pass to Varane and dispatching the lone goal. The 21-year- old Croatian recently transferred to CSKA on a year long loan from Everton, “I came for big games like these” he told reporters after the match. Scoring the game winning goal against Real Madrid in the Champions League group stage would not have been an option at Everton.
Though, it was the comments from his compatriot, Luka Modric, that left one of the biggest marks on Vlasic, “Modric told me that we have a great team. Young, but very good”. A mark of a truesportsman and a class act, Luka Modric was gracious in defeat and recognized the quality that CSKA had on the pitch.
In contrast, Leganes goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar recently called out the Barcelona players for their lack of respect after losing,” We are a humble side, but I like it when people who are used to winning lose, salute the other team and say congratulations, something Barcelona did not do to any of our players,” the veteran goalkeeper explained told Cadena Ser radio.
”None of the Barcelona players came after the game to speak to us, and I think that is an ugly gesture. I don’t think anyone noticed, but I wanted to say this.” Despite the poor run of results, it is a testament to Modric’s character that he still had the grace to speak well of his opponents.