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Messi in 2014 and Modric in 2018 – The Similarities

When Modric received the award, images of a devastated Messi collecting the same award is bound to have flashed in the mind of football fans

Last updated: 16.07.2018
Messi in 2014 and Modric in 2018 – The Similarities

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As the drops of rain hit against the turf in Moscow, France secured a second World Cup victory 20 years after their first, beating Croatia 4-2 in a thrilling final. The individual awards seemed to do justice as well, with Harry Kane winning the Golden Boot, Thibaut Courtois taking home the Golden Glove, Kylian Mbappe securing the Best Young Player award and a saddened Luka Modric picking up the Golden Ball. When Modric went up to receive the award, images of a devastated Lionel Messi collecting the same award in Brazil four years ago is bound to have flashed in the mind of several football fans.

The similarities don’t end there. Modric (Croatia) and Messi (Argentina) were the captains for their teams in 2018 and 2014 respectively. Both wear the number 10 on their backs and both their names can be abbreviated to “LM10”. They are also almost of similar height at around 1.7 metres. Both scored all their goals in the Group stage of the tournament and could not score in any of the knockouts. While Messi scored 4 goals and assisted 1 during the course of the tournament, Modric scored 2 goals and assisted 1 in 7 games. Both of them also scored the first goal-scorers of the tournament for their respective teams, with Messi netting against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Modric scoring a penalty against Nigeria. And, in another remarkable co-incidence, both teams saw their opposition concede an own-goal in their first group game. However, in both their cases, it was their mere presence and leadership that made the team a force to be reckoned with, more than their goals or assists. While Modric pulled the strings in midfield along with Ivan Rakitic, Messi had Angel di Maria for support in attack and when the latter was absent through injury in the final stages, the little Argentina often found himself near the halfway line, trying to receive the ball from the defence. Both Croatia and Argentina also won all their group games in Russia and Brazil respectively, with their number 10’s starring. And to top it all off, neither of the teams were favourites to make the Final and both of them beat teams that were more fancied to make the final, in the semi-finals (Argentina beat Netherlands on penalties in Brazil while Croatia beat England 2-1 after extra-time in Russia).

It is a well-known fact that both Lionel Messi and Luka Modric are unquestionable stars for their club teams, Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively, and they do give their all for their national teams, but their chances of winning an international honour are steadily decreasing. While both of them can take pride in how they led their teams and the performance they put up in 2014 and 2018, respectively, it just ended up as another ‘so near yet so far’ affair and no number of individual honours can soothe that pain. Messi looked lost when he collected the Golden Ball in 2014 while Modric was distraught as he went up the stairs in 2018. Messi returned to Barcelona after the pain on Brazilian soil to win the treble in the 2014-15 season under a new manager. Modric has a new manager to look forward to when he goes back to Madrid in Julian Lopetegui, but will be greeted with the absence of the talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo, who has already landed in Turin, having joined Juventus. The onus will be on the diminutive midfielder to perform just as well as he did in Croatian colours as Real Madrid open up a new chapter in their history: ‘post-Ronaldo’. 

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