Luka Modric comes “from a different planet … to play football with us mortals here,” says Ivan Rakitic, who alongside his El Clasico rival has helped Croatia to the round of 16 at the 2018 World Cup.
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Rakitic has been fortunate enough to play alongside Modric for the national team the last 11 years, as well as the legendary and transcendent Andres Iniesta since moving to Barcelona in the summer of 2014. A student of the game and a willing product of his environment, Rakitic has soaked up every last bit of knowledge and makes little effort to contain his admiration for his teammates and friends — quotes from the AP:
“It seems like both of them are from a different planet and they came to play football with us mortals here. Both of them are among the best players ever in their positions.
“If I created a football team, I would have both of them in my team. I can thank God to have the opportunity to play with both of them.”
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Ahead of Sunday’s round-of-16 clash with Denmark, Rakitic even went so far as to dub Modric the best-ever Croatian footballer:
“If Robert Prosinecki said that, it has to be true because nobody knows about football more than Prosinecki. And I would agree with him completely. Not only that Luka is the best player ever, but he is a great person, a leader and we are following him.”
With Modric and Rakitic leading the way, controlling and dictating anything and everything from the center of midfield, Croatia were arguably the most impressive side during the group stage and have positioned themselves — thanks to some favorable alignment on their half of the knockout bracket — for a potential run to the last four (or two) in Russia.