Luka Modric seems to be ageing like fine wine. His majestic display at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano last night showed why he is still regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world.
Still going strong after an illustrious 18 years in the game, the 'veteran' could be the key man in bringing trophies to Madrid this season; if he continues in this scintillating form.
In the absence of key midfielder Casemiro, Zinedine Zidane was without a defensive-minded midfielder in last night's crucial game.
However, Modric stepped up to the plate alongside Toni Kroos to take care of business without their stonewall Brazilian; the pair administered 14 tackles and interceptions to expertly cut out Gian Piero Gasperini's energized Atalanta.
The composure and energy of Modric, to escape the Atalanta press on multiple occasions, showed why the midfielder is not slowing down any time soon.
"My age? I'm 27 (laughs). I feel very good, you don't have to look at the years. What the player does on the field is important, regardless of age or passport. I am still hungry to continue doing things well and compete at the highest level," Modric explained.
Modric's individual display saw him have a pass completion of 92%, record 16 defensive recoveries, 5 interceptions, 4 duels, 3 tackles, a chance created and an assist. Quite the masterclass from Modric.
An excellent all-round performance from the Croatian saw him provide a crucial assist for his sides first goal.
The number 10 excellently pounced on Marco Sportiello's poor clearance to cross into Karim Benzema's path and the Frenchman finished home to double Madrid's aggregate lead.
It's now back to back games for Madrid were their number 10 has come up clutch - he also provided the assist to ignite their comeback in last weekend's narrow 2-1 win over Eibar in the La Liga.
Zidane voiced high praise for his world-class midfielders in his post-match interview as the two were key in dedicating the team's tempo against a high pressing Atalanta.
"We played really well from start to finish. They only had one chance. We controlled the game. Luka and Toni, in the double pivot are phenomenal. You wouldn't think Modric was 35".
"Modric is 35 right? but on the pitch, he doesn't show that. He's an exceptional player".
Modric this season for Los Blancos has played more games than he has ever played in a single season since joining the club.
At the age of 35, the 2018 Ballon D'or winner has played in 33 out of 35 games Madrid have played in this season. For a 35-year-old, that is longevity at it's finest.
The 35-year old has rolled back the years in recent performances for Madrid. As talks of a new contract emerge, Modric has certainly built a case for one at the moment.