Bengaluru, June 11: Lionel Messi of Argentina, Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Brazil's Neymar will be the biggest stars to watch out for during the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia, which gets underway on June 14.
However, the World Cup is not just about them. There are plenty of other stars who will set the World Cup stage on fire with their dazzling runs and insane goals or blocks.
In this daily series, MyKhel features the other top stars you have to watch out for in Russia.
This segment is about Luka Modric, Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder.
Luka Modric: "After every win at France 98, we just got happier and happier. It was a great advert for Croatia - all the world finally knew about us. I remember I started dreaming about being able to reach that level one day."— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) June 11, 2018
➡ https://t.co/SQLDPHJRJs #myfirstworldcup pic.twitter.com/BcFhjajXQ7
Modric, 32 now, was initially rejected by top European clubs for being diminutive. However, over the last couple of years, the CM has developed into a midfield magician, guiding Real Madrid to three straight Champions League titles.
Although he started off as an attacking midfielder at Dinamo Zagreb, the Croatian is now a deep-lying midfielder and may not don that role for Croatia as they Ivan Rakitic of Barcelona in their ranks. He will play a bit up and contribute directly to the attack, while his role in Real is different.
Apart from distributing the ball for the attack, Modric has a different way of creating chances - by letting the ball slip in between his legs. He has been using this method for a while now and to great success even though it's a repetitive technique (watch the video below).
But that isn't the only thing that makes Modric tick. Consider his position at Real Madrid for example. Although he's not the designated chief orchestrator (that role goes to Toni Kroos), he's still involved in a lot of their goals. That's his influence in the midfield - he can retrieve the ball, alter the rhythm of passing and produce it for the attack. He will probably get the most number of touches for Croatia during the World Cup as he has for Real.
As for goals, Modric is usually one to try scoring from outside the box. He doesn't get into the box quite often - he will leave that to Mario Mandzukic in the World Cup - and is therefore restricted to shooting from outside, sometimes on the rebound. He may do this in Russia more often.
Modric is a secondary set-piece taker, behind Kroos at Real and Rakitic at Croatia. But if called up for the job, he can deliver a good success rate, especially from corners.
But ahead of the World Cup, Modric was caught up in a corruption case with Liverpool defender and compatriot Dejan Lovren. Zdravko Mamic, a former Dinamo Zagreb executive, received payments from the duo for their transfers out of the club. The players were paid some fee for their transfer, which they had to share with Mamic through a pre-determined contract. Modric might be given a jail sentence for perjury - changing his testimony during investigation and in court. However, he's unlikely to be jailed as he spends time in Spain.
Meanwhile, Luka Modrić and Dejan Lovren completely altered their statements in front of the court where they appeared as witnesses.— Juraj Vrdoljak (@JurajVrdoljak) June 6, 2018
Luka Modrić is charged with perjury, Lovren still under investigation but is expected to be charged as well.
One would hope that the trial does not affect the mindset of Modric before the crucial World Cup group. After all, Croatia are placed in a tough group involving Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria.
Watch Modric in action:
Croatia vs Nigeria on June 17 at 12.30 am IST (Kaliningrad)
Croatia vs Argentina on June 21 at 11.30 pm IST (Nizhny Novgorod)
Croatia vs Iceland on June 26 at 11.30 pm IST (Rostov-on-Don)