Real Madrid star Luka Modric is “one of the best midfielders ever”, according to former AC Milan and Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko.
The 40-year-old, who is now manager of the Ukraine national side, knows a thing or two about what it takes to be the best in the business, having scooped the Ballon d’Or back in 2004.
He was at the peak of his powers in Italy at that time, with his achievements being widely recognised as he was held up as being one of the finest forwards on the planet.
Croatian playmaker Modric is yet to earn similar acclaim, amid a Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi duopoly of top individual awards, but his undoubted quality is not lost on those in Madrid and around the world.
Ahead of a 2018 World Cup qualifier between Ukraine and Croatia, Shevchenko told Goal on the challenge facing his side: “I wish for everything to go very well for us.
“I mean, Croatia have a great team, with such great, talented players.
“[Having] one of the best midfielders ever like Luka Modrić, and playing up front: [Mario] Mandžukić, [Nikola] Kalinić, [Mateo] Kovačic…it’s a strong team.
“We have to be very well prepared, and we play on chances, I think Ukraine have a good chance. We are very strong at home.”
Shevchenko no longer has to concern himself with the threat posed by Kalinic and Kovacic, with Croatia having seen two key men join a lengthy injury list.
That should aid the Ukrainian cause, as they seek to force their way towards next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia.
They sit fourth in Group I at present, ahead of meetings with Kosovo and Croatia.
Easing past group whipping boys Kosovo should pose few problems, meaning that Ukraine will enter their final fixture very much in the mix for a top-two finish.
Two points separate them from Croatian and Iceland as things stand.
Topping the group will secure automatic qualification, but a runners-up spot should be good enough to pick up a play-off spot.