Inside Spanish Football’s Real Madrid correspondent Alex Kirkland is singing the praises of Toni Kroos after his exceptional performance against Rayo Vallecano this past week, while also detailing why the German international’s arrival couldn’t come at a better time for Los Blancos.
With Toni Kroos it’s all about economy. No frills, no fuss, no showboating. His goal on Saturday was typical. The ball caressed into the bottom corner from 30 yards out, one punch of the air in celebration, and then back to work. His passing is metronomic and his game intelligence is palpable. His adaptation to La Liga and his integration into this Real Madrid side have been more seamless than anyone could have predicted.
Fears about losing the experience of Xabi Alonso and the dynamism of Angel di María have proved needless. Instead, Madrid’s midfield is better than ever. Together, Kroos and Luka Modric have formed the best partnership in the league. The BBC dominate the headlines with their goalscoring exploits and James and Isco provide moments of brilliance but it’s Kroos and Modric who are most responsible for this extraordinary run of 13 consecutive wins.
Kroos was the best player on the pitch against Rayo Vallecano at the Bernabeu. Covering more ground than any of his teammates, completing 89 percent of his passes, he dominated every aspect of the game. His assist for Bale’s opening goal – a pinpoint cross played in behind the defence for the onrushing Welshman to slide onto – was his sixth in La Liga. Only Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Atletico Madrid’s Koke have created more this campaign with seven each.
His goal to re-establish Madrid’s dominance and put them 3-1 up was the game’s best. A thing of delicate beauty, stroking the ball into the corner of the net with an eerie precision. The understated Kroos provides a counterpoint to the explosive power of Ronaldo and Bale. It was his first goal for Real Madrid in his 18th official game.
Even Carlo Ancelotti is impressed. Post-match he expressed his surprise at the speed with which the German has adapted to life in La Liga, and praised his partnership with Modric.
“Kroos was the best player on the pitch and scored his first goal. His level of play surprised me,” said the Italian manager.
“His goal came from a counter attack and he was free to shoot it. When he left, Modric stayed back. They are a good pair and play well together”.
Ancelotti isn’t the only one singing the praises of the recently-bought German, with Bernd Schuster also revealing how impressed he is with the start Kroos has made during his short time at the Bernabeu.
“Kroos is everything I was expecting because he is an intelligent player. That’s a very important attribute in this game. He has it all as a player but I still think that his ideal position is a bit more advanced, at least that’s where I like him because he can exploit all conditions,” the Malaga manager revealed, before also acknowledging the relationship Kroos and Modric share on the pitch.
“You have to adapt the needs of your players to the team. Kroos is adapting fast because of his quality and intelligence. He’s got a good understanding with Modric, who is another like him who could play more advanced.
“Because Kroos is often so far back, it’s difficult for him to use some of his qualities, like making the final pass or shooting. German players have always been good long-range shooters… we like having a shot.”
He’s still noticed back home, too, as Germany teammate and former Bayern teammate Jerome Boateng had his say on the 24-year-old.
“You could see it at the World Cup: Toni is an almost perfect player at a technical level, he can play with his left foot as well as his right. He is the one that sets the tempo of the game. He’s evolved over the past several years and is now playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world.”
As the records keep falling – no Real Madrid side has scored more goals after 11 league games, they are now two wins away from the club record of 15 in a row – it is the consistency and reliability of that Kroos-Modric partnership that sees Madrid already established as firm favourites to take back the league title.