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Feb 8, 2013

Modric promises Real improvement

Luka Modric has admitted that his first six months at Real Madrid have not gone as well as hoped, but says he is improving all the time.

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Modric has scored just one goal and contributed no assists in 21 La Liga appearances since his £29 million move from Tottenham last summer, and was voted in a Marca online poll as the worst signing of the season in Spain.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's home Primera Division clash with Sevilla, the Croatia international said that adapting to life at the Bernabeu was made harder by the long, drawn-out nature of his transfer, but he is confident he will be a success at Madrid.

"I am not completely happy with my performances," Modric said. "In some games I have shown my quality and why I am here at Madrid, in other games I have not.

"I did not take part in the pre-season with the team and spent a long time waiting to see whether I would join Madrid. That has had an effect. Also, the team is not playing as well as last season, which makes things more complicated for me. But the coach and my team-mates have been patient with me and very supportive.

"I am confident in my ability. I am sure that the club and the fans will be happy with me in the end."

With Madrid now 16 points adrift of leaders Barcelona, and their Champions League last-16 first leg against Manchester United looming on Wednesday, coach Jose Mourinho is expected to shuffle his side for Saturday's game.

The Portuguese will be aware, however, that Sevilla have taken seven points from the three games since Unai Emery replaced Michel as coach in early January, although they will be without Modric's international colleague Ivan Rakitic, whose appeal against last weekend's sending off in the 2-1 home win over Rayo Vallecano was rejected on Friday.

Modric, who looks likely to start the game as Xabi Alonso is still troubled by the groin problem which saw him miss Spain's midweek friendly win over Uruguay, said the Rojiblancos would be a good test for Madrid ahead of the visit of Sir Alex Ferguson's side.

"Sevilla are a very good team and since the new coach arrived they have played much better," Modric said. "We have a lot of respect for them. Since I came to Real I have noticed many teams make a huge effort against us. If we are not 100% focused we will have problems. I expect a good game. It will be a good warm-up for Manchester United."

Teenage centre-half Raphael Varane is also a doubt for Los Blancos due to the hamstring strain which saw him withdrawn from the France squad this week, however Portuguese centre-half Pepe could make his return after missing all of January due to an ankle operation.

Madrid's other internationals returned without fitness issues from duty with their countries. Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Sami Khedira scored this week, while Modric, Angel Di Maria, Mesut Ozil and Fabio Coentrao all provided assists. Ronaldo, who has scored in his last four La Liga games at the Bernabeu, also said while with Portugal that he was over his recent thigh niggle.

While stressing that a club like Real Madrid always went out to win every game, Modric accepted that the two legs against United and the Copa del Rey second leg in Barcelona on February 26 would go a long way towards deciding if the team's season was successful or not.

"The game against Manchester United and then the Copa del Rey semi-final return will determine our season," he said. "If we win those two games we can have a successful year."

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