Real Madrid vs Chelsea: Luka Modric so good he could play until 40, says Mateo Kovacic

Kovacic started the Blues’ 3-1 Champions League quarter-final first leg loss to Real on the bench before being sent off at half-time in an attempt to regain control of midfield as the trio experienced of Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos dominated the proceedings.

The result means Chelsea must produce a famous return to the Bernabeu on Tuesday or else give up their European crown.

Asked what it was like to come up against Modric, Kovacic replied: “It was nice and also difficult because we were losing and it’s never nice when you lose a game and you struggle.

“But it was nice to see him and to play against him. I always preferred to have him in my team but right now we are against each other and we are ready to show our best tomorrow and try to pass.

“It’s hard to stop him because he’s an incredible player. Obviously he’s Croatian and I looked up to him when I was a kid and he played for my favorite club which was Dinamo Zagreb.

“Now when we become good friends I admire him even more – a great person, a great player and I can’t wait to play against him again tomorrow.”

Kovacic, nine years junior to Modric, believes his compatriot could still play among the game’s elite for years to come.

“He’s always been as good as he is now, as far as I know, in the last five, six or seven years he’s been at the same level, which is unbelievable,” Kovacic added.

“Why is it good? It’s because he loves football so much. He lives it every day. He’s a professional and if he continues like this, I still see him playing another three, four years at a so high level.

Stopping Modric will go some way to giving Chelsea a slim hope of overturning the deficit in Spain – something Kovacic says the players must believe is a possibility.

“Of course we have our chances and we are motivated to do our best,” he said.

“We didn’t have our best game and the result was not good in the last game, but there is hope and we are motivated to give our best, so it will be a quality game and we wait impatiently.”

Additional reports by AP.

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