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Modrić: “Shakhtar beat us twice in 2020/21 and they’re even better this year”

The midfielder spoke in the pre-match press conference.

FBL-EUR-C1-REAL MADRID-PRESSER Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid are finally back in action and they have a tough match against Shakhtar Donetsk to return to, taking on the Ukrainian side away from home on Tuesday night. Shakhtar defeated Real Madrid home and away when these clubs met in the group stage last season and Luka Modrić is aware of that fact and the need to avoid complacency, especially after having lost to Sheriff Tiraspol last time out in the Champions League.

Previewing this week’s game in a press conference, Modrić said: “We know it’s an important match, especially after losing the last game at home. We don’t have much more margin for error. We’ll need to give our all and compete well. We maybe didn’t give our best level in the last three matches, after the good start to the season, but I’ll think we’ll have a good game this time around.”

Discussing the opponent, he said: “It’s not about revenge for last year. We just want to do well tomorrow and win. We’re facing a strong team, who demonstrated their capability when they beat us twice last year. Shakhtar are still a strong team and we expect this to be a difficult game. I have been following them closely, as my former captain [Darijo Srna] is their sporting director. They have a new coach, they have evolved their football, they have the ball more than last year and they like to play out from the back. I think they’re even be better than they were last year.”

Modrić on Benzema’s Ballon d’Or chances

The midfielder discussed a number of other matters too, such as the 2021 Ballon d’Or race. Asked if his teammate Karim Benzema could follow in his footsteps to win it, Modrić said: “There are various candidates that could win it this year. Karim is definitely one of them. He could win and he’d deserve it because of how he has played this year and over all these years. He won a title for France, which is always important for those who vote for this award. I hope he wins it, because for me he deserves it.”

Modrić on the proposal for a biennial World Cup

Another issue discussed was the idea of having the World Cup every two years. On that, the Croatian said: “I don’t see the sense of having a World Cup every two years. It’s special because it’s every four years and you wait for it. I wouldn’t like to have a World Cup every two years, but they don’t ask the players about these things anyway.”