Real Madrid: Does Luka Modric Make Los Merengues Champions League Favorites?
Luka Modric, Tottenham's influential midfield man, signed with Real Madrid during the last couple days of the transfer window in a deal that was reportedly worth £33 million.
Modric made his first start for the reigning La Liga champions on Sunday against Granada, putting forth a promising display that was overshadowed by Cristiano Ronaldo's two goals and the Portuguese star saying after the game that he is "not happy" with Real Madrid.
Despite this, Modric makes an already star-studded midfield even more prolific and dangerous. Having a midfield that consists of Modric, loanee Michael Essien, Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Kaka, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria terrifies opponents.
But does the addition of Modric to this already superstar midfield make Real Madrid Champions League winners-elect?
Real Madrid, when they enter any sort of competition, are always considered the favorites to win. They are too good to overlook, especially in the Champions League.
Last season, everyone was expecting a Madrid-Barcelona Champions League final because Madrid and Barcelona were the two best teams in Europe. Upsets from Bayern Munich (that's how good Madrid is; losing to Bayern Munich over two legs is considered an upset) and Chelsea, respectively, denied us a dream final.
This season, Real Madrid are considered favorites simply by being Real Madrid just like any other season.
However, from what we've seen from Los Blancos so far, they don't look the part of all-powerful, world superpower, win-everything Real Madrid.
They snatched the Spanish Super Cup away from Barcelona after losing the first leg 3-2, then squeezing out a 2-1 win at home in which they didn't look entirely comfortable.
They scored their first league win on Sunday with a 3-0 win over Granada that flattered Jose Mourinho's side, after drawing against Valencia in the league opener and losing to Getafe 2-1.
Real Madrid haven't looked completely comfortable in most of the games they've played this season, and it's only going to get harder once they enter the fray that is the Champions League group stage.
Real Madrid tops off Group D, the dreaded "Group of Death" which also consists of English champions Manchester City, Dutch champions Ajax and German champions Borussia Dortmund. Even though Madrid are largely expected to make it out of the group, their early-season form doesn't instill confidence that it will be an easy ride.
Not only does Madrid look nervous and uncomfortable at this stage in the season, but other teams, such as Chelsea, PSG and Bayern Munich look really scary.
Chelsea are unbeaten in league play, with new signing Eden Hazard looking like the early EPL Player of the Year and Fernando Torres finally seeming to find his form again, which isn't good for opposing teams. Even though the Blues were thrashed 4-1 by Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup, Chelsea have looked really dangerous in the opening weeks of the season.
PSG have added Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi to an already dangerous team that includes Javier Pastore, Kevin Gamiero and Thiago Motta. French teams haven't really been dangerous in recent seasons, but PSG looks to make a deep run with a really good squad.
Bayern Munich have outscored their Bundesliga opponents 9-1 in their first two games with a 3-0 win over promoted Greuther Furth and a 6-1 thrashing of Stuttgart. New signings Mario Mandzukic, Xherdan Shaqiri and club-record signing Javi Martinez have all looked bright so far.
Real Madrid will have their work cut out for them if they want total European success. Does Luka Modric bring skill and pace to the Real Madrid midfield? Of course. Did they already have skill and pace in the midfield? Absolutely.
Luka Modric doesn't make Real Madrid Champions League favorites. Being Real Madrid makes Real Madrid Champions League favorites.
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