Modric: When there's a trophy at stake, we're motivated

  • Real Madrid looking for their fourth Club World Cup crown

  • Modric won the adidas Golden Ball in last year’s competition

  • The Spanish side will face either Kashima Antlers or Guadalajara on 19 December

“It’s been an amazing year. I hope we can round it off in the best possible way, by winning this World Cup.”

'Amazing' is one way of describing the year Luka Modric has had. But given that it has seen him lift the UEFA Champions League, finish a runner-up at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, where he won the adidas Golden Ball, and also walk off with the Best FIFA Men’s Player award, it is a word that perhaps fails to do his 2018 justice.

Though the last 12 months have been intense, the Croatian is ready for what lies ahead: “I feel much better going into this tournament than I did at the start of the season. I struggled to find my rhythm again after what was a very tough World Cup. I was worn out physically and mentally, but in the last few matches I’ve been feeling better in a physical sense.”

Despite everything he has achieved, Modric is still striving for more. The next challenge is to win the FIFA Club World Cup for the third year in a row and take Real Madrid past Barcelona as the most successful club in the competition’s history.

Last year’s tournament ended with the midfielder collecting a winner’s medal and the adidas Golden Ball, an individual award that is not the be all and end all for him: “The most important thing is the group as a whole, that and the team playing well. I try to help in any way I can. My only goal is to win the Club World Cup, which is an important title for all of us. After that we’ll just have to wait and see what happens at an individual level.”

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid, Luka Modric of Real Madrid and Jonathan Urretaviscaya of CF Pachuca pose 2017-12-16 20:13:04

Los Blancos have had a testing start to the season. Julen Lopetegui was sacked as coach in October and though Santiago Solari’s appointment as his successor was seamless enough, recent results have cast doubts on the team’s style of play.

“We’re working to be better physically and to be able to express our talent and abilities on the pitch better,” said the 33-year-old. “We’re trying to stick together more on the pitch and to be a team. I think we’ve got better under Solari in that respect. There are still some areas where we can improve but I think we’re heading to Abu Dhabi in pretty good form. When there’s a trophy at stake, we’re motivated.”

After a spectacular year that he hopes will end with more glory in the UAE, Modric is now turning his thoughts to the challenges that lie ahead: “My objectives are to win more titles: the Champions League, the league and the Copa del Rey, which we haven’t won since 2014. I’d like to win it again. I try to win every competition I play in. I’m still very hungry and I’m going to work hard to be at the level I need to be to help the team.”