Former Tottenham Hotspur ace Luka Modric received a rapturous welcome from the Real Madrid fans yesterday as he returned to action for the first time since November.
The Croatian international initially struggled after trading Spurs for the Spanish capital in the summer of 2012 though that certainly isn’t the case nowadays.
After helping the club to a Copa Del Rey and Champions League double last season, the 29-year-old was a key contributor to the Real's record breaking 22-game winning streak earlier this campaign.
However, his long-term absence from the side stretching back to mid-November has coincided with Madrid’s uncharacteristic struggles.
Since the turn of the year, Los Blancos have lost as many as five matches and were knocked out of the Copa Del Rey in embarrassing fashion by city rivals Atletico Madrid.
They’ve missed their midfield general above all, and his introduction during yesterday’s Champions League encounter with Schalke 04 was one of only a few highlights from Madrid’s evening.
A banner reading ‘Modric is back’ was just a small token of the Santiago Bernabau’s gratitude to the player as his second half introduction was met with rapturous applause.
Unfortunately for the diminutive midfield star, his inclusion couldn’t stop what was a pretty shocking performance by Carlo Ancelotti’s side as they were beaten by their Bundesliga rivals 4-3 on the night.
Still, the slender defeat was still enough to put the La Liga side in the hat for the quarter-final draw and with Modric back there will be far more optimism over retaining their Champions League crown.