Kroos silences critics as Real Madrid’s main man in the middle

The German central midfielder has changed his mindset and is delivering some of his best stats in every department of his career.

Toni Kroos has changed changes his mindset. He has shaken off the alarmingly passive approach that dogged him last season and become one of the most reliable players for Real Madrid with an improving involvement defensively too. His last game against Atlético exemplified that. His range of long and short passing was on display with a 93.9 completion percentage and some decent efforts from outside the area. He recovered most balls (8) along with Valverde. He is robbing the ball at a rate of one every 11 minutes and losing it less with one every 10 minutes than any season before this.

The defeat in Paris was a collapse by the entire team with almost every player, including Kroos, not covering himself in glory. In the first game of the season, however, Kroos scored a cracker against Celta, recovered more balls than any other players. He delivered 58 successful passes, another team-leading stat, and touched the ball more than any of his teammates too (77). Against Valladolid, Zidane admitted they need to know how to defend a lead properly after Sergi Guardiola equalised late on. He returned to his best defensive form against Levante before the earthquake that shook the squad against PSG. Since then, he has been efficient with the ball against Sevilla, and against Osasuna in more solid defensive display by the entire team. His performance against Atlético was on another level again as Real Madrid recover the very best version of the German midfielder.

Key to his improvement has been the presence of Fede Valverde in the middle. The Uruguayan covers a lot of ground and presses in order to free up the German, who then adds some flavour to Madrid’s attacks. Against Osasuna and Atlético, Kroos was the Madrid player with most shots on goal – 2 in each. In this regard, Kroos has also improved on previous seasons and anyone who has seen him fire shots on goal, knows this is a good thing. Kroos has quietened critics, working hard going backwards and organising Madrid’s development of the ball from deep. Zidane was always confident that this Kroos would return and in recent weeks, it looks like his confidence was well placed.