Luka Modric’s new-found status as the world’s best player will not change Julen Lopetegui’s plans ahead of Real Madrid’s La Liga trip to Sevilla on Wednesday night.
Modric was one of a host of Real stars to pick up awards at the FIFA World Football Awards in London on Monday night and was back at the training ground to show off his trophy.
But, while Lopetegui admitted he liked seeing his own players pick up such accolades, it mattered little when compared with the importance of preparing a whole squad for success.
Lopetegui told a press conference: ‘That (the award) comes with the game of football. It is not what coaches love, but it is ingrained in the modern game.
‘I always want my players to win awards, but the team comes way before any individual prizes.
‘I have a different opinion on these awards. I am not bothered about them, but if they are being given out, I hope my players gain the recognition.’
Modric is one of the players who could be rested as Lopetegui tweaks his team for the trip to Sevilla with one eye on Saturday’s derby against Atletico Madrid.
Isco is the one significant new absentee due to appendicitis, with the midfielder not expected to be in the frame for a return until the first El Clasico of the season at the end of next month.
‘I spoke to the doctors today and he has to receive the treatment for appendicitis,’ added Lopetegui.
‘It is a shame but we have to maintain faith in whoever we send out onto the pitch.’
Isco’s absence could give another chance to Dani Ceballos, while Alvaro Odriozola is set to continue at right-back in the continued absence of Dani Carvajal.
Gareth Bale and Toni Kroos, both of whom sat out the weekend win at Espanol, are likely to return for what Lopetegui rates as one of the toughest tests of his season so far.
‘We’re facing a top side with players who have instantly taken to Pablo Machin’s approach,’ added Lopetegui.
‘They make life hard for all their rivals and have been scoring plenty of goals. That makes life hard for all their rivals, but it motivates us. To know they will push us is a real challenge.
‘We are Madrid and we have to approach every game in the right way and with the right attitude. We’re going to the Sanchez-Pizjuan and it is a fixture rich in history – that pushes us forward and excites us.’
After a questionable start to the campaign, Sevilla head into the game on a high after following their Europa League thrashing of Standard Liege with a 6-2 win at Levante on Sunday.
Machin told a press conference: ‘Whatever you do, Madrid will have chances.
‘We have to be strong in our duels because they have a lot of strength and we have to try to prevent their quality from showing so that we can get the win.’