Toni Kroos is now 30 years old. Time flies eh? The German international has had an illustrious career, decorated with an abundance of trophies. 3 Bundesligas, 1 La Liga, 4 Champions Leagues and a World Cup to name a few. Yet, despite perhaps losing a yard of pace over the last couple of years, he continues to dictate play for Real Madrid. Comfortably one of the best midfielders in the world.
Still running the game at 30 years old
The Los Blancos midfielder perhaps doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Luka Modric of course gets the individual accolades and the heap of the praise. As strange as it was, he did win a Ballon d’Or. Partially perhaps because it’s easier to spot the Croatian when he’s on form, scoring goals and turning up in the big moments. Yet Kroos, despite not getting the most goals or assists, is integral to how the Spanish giants play. Arguably more important than Modric.
If you watched El Clasico, you saw how the veteran midfielder told the young Vinicius to make a run in and behind the Barcelona defence with a hand gesture. Kroos then found him with the perfect ball, with the Brazilian then scoring the opener. That’s how important he is to this side.
The World Cup winner has played a multitude of roles through his career. A dynamic attacking midfielder at Bayern. Then as a box to box midfielder and deep lying playmaker at the Santiago Bernabeu. The latter more so now, considering the fact he’s lost a yard of pace and the likes of Casemiro are there to cover for him. Either way, the Brazilian himself has confirmed how the team plays to the German’s tune.
“If Toni wants the team to slow things down, the team will go a little slower – or if he wants to up the pace, the team will play a little faster.”Casemiro on Toni Kroos’ influence on the side
Toni Kroos – Style of Play
Kroos has always been technically outstanding. Incredible passing, inch perfect set-pieces and ridiculous shooting ability from long range. Let’s start with the passing. The sheer precision of the former Bayern midfielder’s distribution is obscene. 93.7% pass accuracy in La Liga in 2019/20 and averaging a staggering 7.1 long balls per game. In fact, throughout his whole career, across EVERY competition he’s played in, he’s averaged 91% pass accuracy. It’s remarkable how he just doesn’t put a foot wrong. A true maestro in the middle of the pitch
Then of course his set pieces and long shots. In a dire 2018 World Cup for Germany, their stand out moment was a moment of magic from Toni Kroos. Curling a beautiful free kick into the top corner to win the game in stoppage time. On the big stage under pressure to deliver, he did so spectacularly. It’s a pity that Cristiano Ronaldo’s presence for years meant Kroos was denied opportunities to place the dead ball into the top corners. I could put money on him scoring, his accuracy is frighteningly good.
He evens scores directly from corners! As he did for Madrid against Valencia earlier this season. Often that’s considered lucky. But if you watch the clip, you can see the former Leverkusen loanee meant it. Just one example of the quick thinking and football IQ that has enabled him to thrive at the world’s most demanding club for so long.
More on the intelligence, Toni Kroos is always a step ahead in the game. The way he reads the game and does everything so flawlessly is incredible. The great Johan Cruyff himself said Kroos was ‘nearly perfect’. Perhaps the best compliment you could get.
Goals have never been a primary part of Kroos’ game. He’s never scored more than 10 goals in a season from the centre of the pitch. But when he does score, they’re often special. The corner obviously this season and several occasions where he just lets fly from 30 yards out. He hits the ball so sweetly too and, like his passes, often hits his target.
What the 6ft tall Bayern youth product perhaps doesn’t get a lot of credit for his work rate. You’d think with his lack of pace and natural ability, the German sits back and orchestrates play with ease. In fact, not at all. Kroos’ defensive output is surprisingly good. Averaging a respectable 1.6 tackles per game this season, he uses his physical presence to good effect. Holding up the ball well and then using silky footwork to beat his man.
Toni Kroos is far from finished at the top level. In fact, he’s still at the top of his game. I thought it was only fair we paid tribute for perhaps one of the most underrated midfielders of his generation. World class.
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