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Apr 2, 2014

Modric defends Bale after fan criticism

Luka Modric says Gareth Bale is doing well at Real Madrid even if he has not yet replicated the form he showed at Tottenham Hotspur.

Luka Modric played alongside Gareth Bale at White Hart Lane.
Luka Modric played alongside Gareth Bale at White Hart Lane.

Train: Is Ronaldo selfish?
Rigg: Whistles no major concern

Bale has racked up 16 goals and 15 assists in his first seven months in Spain despite fitness issues, but some remain unconvinced by his contribution and, although he scored twice in the 5-0 La Liga win over Rayo Vallecano at the weekend, he was one of the Madrid players whistled by fans at the Bernabeu.

Modric, who played alongside Bale at Spurs, said that the criticism of the winger as “selfish” was unfair.

“He’s doing really well,” the Croatia international told the news conference ahead of the Champions League quarterfinal first leg against Borussia Dortmund. “He's helping the team out a lot. He has scored loads of goals and provided a lot of assists.

“Perhaps he isn't as good as he was at Tottenham, but he is important for us. I don't think he has been selfish. He is trying to play for the team and has probably provided the most assists out of anybody in La Liga. He wants to score and pass the ball, so I don't think that should be a problem.”

The Bernabeu crowd also whistled Cristiano Ronaldo during Saturday’s win over Rayo, something Modric put down to disappointment at Madrid having slipped to third in the table following consecutive defeats to Barcelona and Sevilla.

“Obviously Cristiano is disappointed with these two defeats, like everyone on the team,” he said. “We weren't expecting that to happen, but that's football for you. If it wasn't like that, it wouldn't be interesting. We have to congratulate Barcelona and Sevilla.

“The fans have shown their respect for Cristiano, so nothing has changed. I'm sure that [against Dortmund] they will once again show him their appreciation. Cristiano Ronaldo respects the fans -- it's like a marriage. There are good days and bad days, but the important thing is that they love each other.”

Modric said they would look to regain their best form against injury-hit Dortmund, who eliminated Madrid at the semifinal stage in last season’s competition.

“We'll do our best to beat Dortmund,” he said. “It will be a tough match and it is crucial for the return leg that we don't concede. After the four games we played against them last season we know how dangerous they are on the break.

“We have lost two games [against Barca and Sevilla], but we have to bounce back from that quickly. We have to be united, remain confident and continue playing as we have been throughout the season. These two defeats shouldn't erase all the good work that came before them. We are alive in all three competitions and are not going to give up on any of them.”

Meanwhile, former Madrid winger Figo has followed his ex-teammate Fernando Hierro’s lead in playing down the criticism aimed at Ronaldo during the Rayo game.

“In football, you need to be prepared to be whistled,” Figo said in Marca. “It is not about whether you deserve it or not -- football is like that. You do not need to keep going over it. It has passed. The Bernabeu has whistled everyone; the next game, they will applaud him. Nobody likes to be whistled, but it happens. You must take it.”

Figo also said he was confident Madrid could progress against Dortmund but would need to be wary of their opponents.

“Madrid might be favourites, but the experience from last year should have them on alert,” he said. “[Dortmund] are missing a lot of players, but they are a German team and competitive and it will not be an easy tie. I believe Madrid will go through. That is the hope.”

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