Real Madrid played a pretty awful game against bottom tier Granada on Sunday. And Granada should have surely won, if not drawn with Real, if it wasn’t for Luka Modrić. Modrić had a superb day at the office with his passing but the midfielder maestro will be known on this day for his rocket foot. With the game tied 1-1 in the 85th minute, Modrić received a short pass from substitute Mateo Kovačić to light up a shot from 23 yards out. The ball hit the back of the net and Modrić would earn Real all three points in what was an important match to keep pace wit Atletico and Barca. Modric doesn’t score goals often, but when he does, they’re world class.
Modrić blast from 23 yards out
Ivan Rakitić had a quiet day as Barcelona skimmed by Levante 2-0 on Sunday. Rakitić got the start and played 68 minutes in the win as Barcelona’s first goal came from an own goal in the first half. The Croatian midfielder had Barca’s best chance early in the second half to double the lead, but his header off a corner was saved by the Levante keeper. With the win, Barca remain three points ahead of Atletico Madrid for the La Liga lead.
Alen Halilović came on in the 66th minute for Sporting Gijon in a 1-1 draw against Deportivo la Coruna on Saturday. The Croatian wunder-kind only has four months left on his loan spell at Sporting. Will Barcelona bring him back next season and let him play big the big boys?
Duje Čop played the full 90 minutes in Malaga’s 3-0 win over Getafe on Friday. Although Čop isn’t scoring many goals for Malaga, he is getting ample time in La Liga. With The win, Malaga climb to the top half of the table in Spain.
Dejan Lovren is injured once again. After just returning from a hamstring injury, Lovren had to limp off in the 11th minute against Sunderland injury with an undisclosed knock. His return is unknown at this time. Liverpool were in complete control of the match, up 2-0 in the 82nd minute, but conceded two late goals to earn a disappointing draw with Sunderland. The result knocks Liverpool down to 9th place on the English table.
Photo: EPA/Peter Kneffel
Inter come back for a thrilling 3-3 draw in Verona on Sunday. The nerazzurri conceded 3 goals from free kicks but were able to turn things around in the second half after having been two goals down. Marcelo Brozović retains his starting position as a left inner midfielder in the initial 4-3-3 formation. His first half is scarcely sufficient. Playing with Melo and Kongdobia, two players who lack any football IQ, make the Dinamo Zagreb star force a lot of plays that result in a few lost balls. Nonetheless, when Inter need clever passes and to change the rhythym of the game he is the go to guy. He especially grows with these regards in the second half. Almost finds the goal of the season with an incredible shot from outside of the box in the firs half.
La gazzetta dello Sport ratings: Marcelo Brozović 6: Highs and lows when he tries to organize the gameplay. Highest number of completed passes and wrong passes. His corner kick puts Inter ahead. Serves a good assist to Icardi and almost scores with a spectacular shot.
Ivan Perišić starts from the bench for the second match in a row. Roberto Mancini is widely known for being used to tickling his players pride to get the best out of them. The strategy pays off this time. Due to the score set the former Wolfbsburg star is freed from defensive duties and occupies the left flank to cut inside and trigger Telles overlaps. Ivan plays a pivotal role in the final come back when first serves a perfect assist for Icardi that is worth the 2-3 and then personally finds the equalizer showing, for the first time this season, his ability to exploit the opponents weak flank and why he was bought last summer in the first place. Ante Rebić was still out due to a problem to his back. He is being evaluated on a daily basis.
La gazzetta dello Sport ratings: Ivan Perišić 6,5 (Inter MOTM) Manages to change Inter with a few plays. Serves a clever assist and scores his third goal of the season.
Despite being clear favorites in the pre match analysis, Sassuolo did not manage to get the 3 points against Palermo. Šime Vrsaljko is a starter despite having the flu. The Croatian international is clearly not in the best form and gets subbed at the end of the first half with the match tied 1-1 after an unimpressive performance.
La gazzetta dello Sport rates him a 5,5: He has got a temperature. Does not make as many crosses as expected and runs less than usual.
Fiorentina drew 1-1 in Bologna on Saturday. Nikola Kalinić is left out of the starting eleven, Paulo Sousa having preferred Babacar as the sole offensive terminal. The Croatian international comes on at the start of the second half with the score set 0-0. Though still not in his best form Kalinić shows a glimpse of his skills when he comes deep to protect the ball and to serve Tello in the play that is worth the momentary 1-0. The former Dnipro star did not receive much service as Fiorentina played almost the entire second half with 10 men. He could have nonetheless done better on a couple occasions, especially when he wastes a counter attacking chance with an horrible dribbling on a 1 on 1.
Milan Badelj looked on from the stand due to an injury. The Croatian midfielder is targeting his come back for the home match against Inter on the 14th of February.
La gazzetta dello Sport rates Kalinić performance a 6: Starts the play for the 1-0. No shots.
Juve got their 14th consecutive victory in a row as they came atop of Frosinone with a neat 2-0. The bianconeri will face Napoli next week in a match that might be worth the tile and will have to do so without the services of Mario Mandžukić, who missed his third consecutive Serie A match due to a calf injury. Juventus staff are working to have him back for the Champions League second leg against Bayern Munich.
Bayer Leverkusen are now undefeated in five Bundesliga games after holding Bayern Munich to a nil-nil draw on Saturday. Former Dinamo Zagreb defender Tin Jedvaj started at right back and played 51 minutes in the draw. Chances are that Bayer are being cautious with Jedvaj after just recently returned from injury.
Ivo Iličević was suspended for Hamburger SV’s 1-1 draw against Köln on Sunday. The 29-year-old winger headbutted Michael Gregoritsch after the Austria under-21 international tackled him in training. “As a result of the incident of yesterday’s workout Bruno Labbadia has decided that Ivo Iličević is not available for the game on Sunday,” the club announced via Twitter.
Ivo Iličević lost his cool in training this week
Ivica Olić has decided to finish the season at Hamburg. The Croatian international was left off the roster on Sunday. Andrej Kramarić played 90 minutes for Hoffenheim in a 2-0 loss against Darmstadt on Sunday.
Danijel Subašić started between the pipes for Monaco as they solidified their hold on second place in France with a 1-0 win over 3rd-placed Nice on Saturday. Mario Pašalić also got the start, coming off in the 66th minute after firing a dangerous shot on target, completing 10 passes, and picking up a yellow card. Subasic made four saves as he earned the clean sheet. Monaco remain second in Ligue 1, and now have a six point gap over Nice and St. Etienne.
Pasalic Shot: 0:45, Saves: 1:00, 1:35, 2:35
Mladen Petrić played the full match and Danijel Pranjic came on in the 64th minute as Panathinaikos fell 1-0 at home to 8th placed Xanthi on Sunday. Panathinaikos remain third in the Greek Super League, as fourth-placed PAOK also lost this weekend.
The Ukrainian Premier League is on Winter Break until March. Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk will return to competition in late February for Champions/Europa League knockout matches.
Vedran Ćorluka and the Russian Premier League are on Winter Break until March. They will play Fenerbahce in the Europa League Round of 32 in February.
Monaco at Sochaux(Coupe de France), Werder Bremen at Bayer Leverkusen(DFB Pokal),
Barcelona at Valencia(Copa del Rey), Panathinaikos at Atromitos(Cup),
Bayer Leverkusen at Darmstadt 98, Sassuolo at Chievo, Athletic Club at Real Madrid,
Liverpool at Aston Villa, Monaco at Saint-Étienne, Borussia M’gla at Hamburger SV, Internazionale at Fiorentina, Celta de Vigo at Barcelona, Panathinaikos at PAS Giannina,
~Ante Kvartuč and Denis Svirčić reporting from sunny Southern California, Zach Gilfix reporting from Minneapolis, MN and Salvatore Cagnazzi reporting from Italy