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Luka Modric: Tactical flexibility helps Real Madrid adapt to tough situations

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric has denied that tactical changes made by coach Zinedine Zidane have caused problems, saying the ability to use different systems is an advantage.

Zidane kept experimentation to a minimum during his first 12 months as Madrid coach but has used a three-man central defence in the last three away games.

These matches saw Madrid lose at Sevilla, draw at Celta Vigo as they went out of the Copa del Rey and win at Osasuna, which arrived after a late switch back to 4-4-2.

Asked at a news conference ahead of Wednesday's Champions League game at home to Napoli whether the side were shakier with a three-man defence, Modric said: "I do not agree -- we have also played well with this system.

"When the boss chooses the system, we must play as well as possible and give everything. It is good to be able to use various systems so that you can change in difficult moments."

Modric said Madrid needed to be wary against their in-form Serie A opponents, who he said had strength right across the team.

"Napoli are a very good team, not just in midfield," he said. "They have good players up front too.

Luka Modric
Luka Modric is delighted that Diego Maradona will be watching on Wednesday.

"The battle will be difficult. The most important thing for us is to start the game well, start strongly and play well as we know how to do and have done almost all through the season.

"We are playing at home and it is important to play well and win, hopefully with a clean sheet."

The Croatia international welcomed the news that Diego Maradona, a legend at Napoli, would be present at the Bernabeu for the match.

"I have met him a few times," he said. "What can I say -- Maradona is one of the best players in football history.

"We are happy that he will be at the game, to see it live. But thank God he is not playing. We're happy about that."

Modric added that his former Tottenham Hotspur teammate Gareth Bale, close to a return after an ankle injury, had been missed during his three months on the sidelines.

"I see him very strong, mentally strong, prepared to be back playing as soon as possible," he said. "He has trained well. We want him back as soon as possible."

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan

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