From Ronaldo in 2002 to James Rodriguez in 2014, Real Madrid have a proud history of spending big on the biggest talent at the World Cup. Here we predict the 2018 Galacticos...
It will be goal-scorers Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic who get all the headlines after Croatia’s dramatic 2-1 semi-final victory over England, but anyone with an eye for the game will know that Luka Modric was the real star of the show.
The midfield play-makeer, having already played every minute of Croatia’s two knock-out games which included extra-time, not only proved his stamina with another tireless display over 120 minutes but was the architect of Croatia’s fight-back and eventual victory.
Everything positive from a Croatian point of view went through Modric. His vision and range of passes from midfield kept England stretched and never let them settle while his variation at set-pieces constantly kept them guessing throughout.
Shackled to a small extent by the man-marking of Jordan Henderson early on in the first half, the Liverpool man faded and that was when Modric really cut loose and furthered his claim to be considered the star of the tournament.
Modric is already firmly entrenched within the Real Madrid set-up and it’s essential that they hold onto him – even more so since the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo.
At 32 the Madrid number 10 should theoretically be slowing down, but there’s no sign of that happening at all and while his current contract runs to 2020, Florentino Perez would be well advised to extend that further.
The man most likely to win the World Cup golden boot would usually be very much on the Real Madrid radar but it’s been a funny tournament for Harry Kane.
He’s clocked up six goals but has never really produced the kind of form we know he’s capable of from his time at Tottenham and many people who haven’t seen him play for Spurs might wonder what the fuss is about.
Certainly there’s been some fortuity to his World Cup scoring record with three penalties and a deflected goal which he knew little about against Panama to pad out his numbers.
However it was the manner of his performance against Croatia that was the biggest disappointment and in England’s biggest game since 1990, he failed to sparkle.
In fairness to Kane, much of that was due to how well he was marshalled by the Croatian defence and the lack of service to him. The England captain was forced to drop deeper and deeper in search of the ball as the game wore and was unable to create much of anything from open play.
Kane’s best chance came in the first half with his side 1-0 up, when he took advantage of some lax defending to get behind the Croatian back line but twice was unable to find a way past Daniel Subasic.
Short of another penalty, Harry Kane may not get a better chance to add to his World Cup goal tally. England should be 2-0 up, but it remains 1-0 https://t.co/AwwGD5pegp #rtesoccer #worldcup #CRO #ENG pic.twitter.com/DaLsLDo8VT— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) July 11, 2018