Modric and Benzema, at Valdebebas

Real Madrid are starting to emerge from the crisis left behind by Julen Lopetegui and irrespective of some of the Basque’s decision making, he certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that Luka Modric has been far from his best this season.

Considering the huge influence that the Croat has on the team, that says a lot about Madrid‘s predicament.

Since his arrival as interim coach, Santiago Solari has already improved Los Blancos but that has been achieved without a return to form for Modric, who is used to being the heartbeat at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu club.

The Argentine though, along with the fans, is fully aware that the 33-year-old remains a hugely important figure and that the club’s ambitions still rest on the Croatian international rediscovering his form.

Many are wondering what has happened to Modric but it’s clear that the World Cup had a big part to play in his sluggish start to the season.

He was one of the last to return and only France‘s players, after lifting the trophy, came back later.

After leading Croatia to the final, he is mentally and physically exhausted and that is particularly evident when you consider the sheer work Modric has to do to make Madrid tick, as well as helping out defensively.

The former Tottenham player was barely able to take part in pre-season, arriving back at the Spanish capital on August 9 with the Super Cup taking place just six days later.

In that match, he came on in the 63rd minute and played the remainder of the game as well as extra-time.

After that Lopetegui gradually gave him minutes: only 35 in the first two weeks but then he became a regular starter again.

Modric was already showing signs of exhaustion, but he considered that the best way to get back to his best was to play consistently.

Solari though chose to leave the Croat on the bench against Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League and Melilla in the Copa del Rey, only giving him a starting berth against Real Valladolid.

He will almost certainly be in the line up for Sunday’s match against Celta Vigo.

The summer transfer speculation surrounding Modric‘s future and a potential move to Inter will not have helped the midfielder.

The player, who was on holiday at the time, nipped the story in the bud when he returned to Madrid, closing the door on a move and refusing to negotiate with Inter, but it had already proved a mentally draining saga.

Modric certainly hasn’t been helped by Real‘s general slump in form and his midfield partners Toni Kroos and Casemiro have also both struggled to recover from the World Cup and find their best level.