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The similarities between Luka Modrić and actor Russell Crowe may not be obvious but the Tottenham Hotspur FC midfielder is hoping for inspiration from his favourite film as his side look to overturn a 4-0 deficit against Real Madrid CF.
The Croatian international loves nothing more that watching movies at home with his son and Gladiator is his choice when it comes to seeking motivation ahead of an important game – and they do not come much bigger than a visit from the nine-time winners in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. "I've watched Gladiator a lot of times," he said. "I won't watch it again tonight as I'll be watching Manchester United versus Chelsea, but we need to show a big spirit tomorrow – a fighting spirit like in that movie."
"We've had a lot of hard games which we've played at White Hart Lane, especially Young Boys, after we were 3-0 down in the first leg, Inter and then Milan, when we managed to draw to reach the quarter-finals," added Modrić. "We need to do that again and show the same fighting spirit. If you don't play that way, it's hard to do anything. We don't have anything to lose. We can only win and win by a lot."
Much like his cinematic idol, the 25-year-old has demonstrated an eye-catching blend of ability and steely determination and has thrived in a physically-demanding central midfield role this season. But the former NK Dinamo Zagreb playmaker, who joined Tottenham for €21m in 2008, insists confidence in himself and team-mates is an overriding factor in the club's success under Harry Redknapp.
"We have a big belief in the dressing room and that is most important," continued Modrić, who refuses to accept the London club's race is run in this season's competition. "
We believe we can produce a miracle but it will be very hard. Madrid are a great team full of great players but we need to try to play our best football and we'll see if that will be enough. Even if we don't go through it would be great to win this match."
Modrić believes the return of Aaron Lennon could be integral to their hopes of an unlikely recovery, with the England winger eager to play after pulling out of the first leg through illness shortly before kick-off. "Lennon was big miss for us," he said. "He is a great player and I hope he'll cause a lot of problems. But we need to play as a team. If one or two don't then it's hard to do something against Madrid. We all have to play at a high level. We will try to do the best we can. In football, anything is possible, but we need to enjoy it.
"We are in high sprits," continued Modrić, who has played seven times in this season's competition. "This year we have played against some big clubs and showed quality. Everyone needs to respect us for what we've done in the Champions League for the first time. We've shown we are a great team. We can still learn a lot from this year but we have a bright future and are coming on.
If we stay together for a long time we can be one of the best teams in Europe."
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