Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane praised an evergreen Luka Modric after the 35-year-old midfielder delivered a majestic display in the Spanish side’s comfortable 3-1 quarter-final victory over Atalanta on Tuesday.
By contributing to his side’s high-pressing game and intercepting a kick out from Atalanta keeper Marco Sportiello to set up Karim Benzema for the opening goal, Modric was instrumental in breaking the deadlock.
“We all know who Modric is as a player; he may be 35, but he doesn’t show it on the pitch,” Zidane told reporters after his side advanced to the last eight of Europe’s top competition for the first time since 2018.
In the absence of suspended holding midfielder Casemiro, the Croatian partnered with fellow pass-master Toni Kroos to help Real maintain possession and deal with Atalanta’s high-octane pressing game.
“Each player has their characteristics, and they are phenomenal as a holding midfield duo,” the Frenchman said of Kroos and Modric.
Modric, who was named the best player in the world in 2018, said he was always in good enough shape to compete in Europe’s elite for a few more years.
“I have the impression that I am only 27 years old. I’m in great shape, and it just goes to show that age isn’t a factor. It’s what we do on the field that counts, not our passports,” he said.
“With my current form and all I’ve accomplished with this club, I’m always hungry to compete at the highest level, and I’ll continue to work hard every day to do so.”
Apart from a couple of scares, Real dominated the game and won 4-1 on aggregate thanks to Sergio Ramos’ penalty and a late Marco Asensio goal, which came after Atalanta’s Luis Muriel had equalized from a free-kick.
“You have to thank the players because we played brilliantly from start to finish against a team that puts a lot of physical demands on you,” Zidane said.