Luka Modric has, by this stage, seen pretty much all there is to see. He has won four Champions League titles. He has played in a World Cup final.
He has spent a decade at Real Madrid, embedded among some of the finest players of his generation. He is one of the finest players of his generation.
A little more than 20 minutes into the first leg of Real Madrid’s Champions League quarterfinal against Chelsea on Wednesday, Modric saw something that did both.
He was standing on the edge of Chelsea’s penalty area, admiring the flight of the cross he had just delivered. He would have been pleased with it:
a deft, clipped number, swirling away from Edouard Mendy’s goal, and toward his teammate Karim Benzema.
An eye as keen as Modric’s, though, would have recognized that the trajectory of the ball and the position of the player were not quite in sync.
Benzema was a little too far forward, or the cross was a little too far back. It was out by only an inch or so, but few players treasure precision more than Modric; these things matter.
Still, all was not lost. Benzema had options. The most obvious one was to try to steer the ball low to Mendy’s right.