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Toni Kross returns – that can become a mortgage

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Toni Kross returns – that can become a mortgage

Toni Kroos is celebrated at Real Madrid as one of the greatest footballers of his generation. But the fact that national coach Julian Nagelsmann is bringing him back could also have a negative impact on his team.

One of the best, if not the best, German footballer: Toni Kroos at Euro 2020.

Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP

On a Thursday in February, Toni Kroos announced his return to the German national team. He didn’t do this via an association announcement, but through his own communication – as he has been fond of doing since the day at the latest when, in his last major appearance in front of the nation to date, after the 2022 Champions League final, he criticized a ZDF reporter for his “shit” Questions” folded up.

There are no stupid questions on Instagram, only stupid answers, but he doesn’t have to read them. “Guys, short and painless: I will play for Germany again from March,” he wrote there. Later, in a special edition of his podcast, he explained how the comeback should be classified: “I’m definitely not the savior.”

“He is not the only savior,” said national coach Julian Nagelsmann, assisting him. That’s a shame because that’s exactly what Germany has been looking for since the once most reliable nation in world football has been stringing one embarrassment after another.

Bizarre comments from national coach Julian Nagelsmann

Recently, helplessness has spread. The young ones were not suitable as saviors, nor were the old ones’ initial return campaigns (so far). It wasn’t Hansi Flick, and it doesn’t seem to be Nagelsmann either; in just six months he has already fired many a savior and carried out bizarre moves.

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For the upcoming international matches against France and the Netherlands, he announced a strict “performance principle”, which he immediately overturned by dividing his squad into regular and supplementary players, although he prefers to bring the latter from Hoffenheim and Heidenheim because they cause less trouble than those of Bavaria and Dortmund. Rarely has a selection coach so openly refused to do the obvious thing, namely to call up the best players in a country, and that means you are finally in the German mess.

So Toni Kroos. Definitely a regular player, definitely one of the best, if not still the best German footballer. The 34-year-old has been the master of ceremonies at Real Madrid’s royal court since 2014. Thanks to Kroos’ passing qualities, Real’s style of play has changed from a counter-oriented to a mostly dominant team.

En passant, the Champions League was won between 2016 and 2018 and in 2022. Kroos, who was already successful with FC Bayern in 2013, has five titles in the glittering class; no other German has more than three.

Kroos is currently at the peak of his international recognition. The pundits celebrate the elegance and finesse of his football, which runs counter to the sport’s increasingly athletic tendencies and makes some feel nostalgic.

“What a pleasure to watch how intelligence takes over a game at a trot, without muscles and any rush,” wrote former Real manager Jorge Valdano and recommended to his readers of “El País”: “Don’t miss it, There are only a few examples left in this category.” Meanwhile, Valdano’s Argentinian compatriot Juan Román Riquelme, once a midfield director himself, called Kroos’ style “the most similar thing to Federer in tennis: both can go home after the game without showering.”

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However, this style also finds the right people in Madrid. During the Champions League hat trick, he was supported by Luka Modric, the Brazilian Casemiro, in the legendary midfield. He cleared away and went with his body where Kroos had difficulty. Casemiro left the club in 2022, but to his initial surprise, Kroos has flourished even more since then.

As part of a team rejuvenation, he received a whole Praetorian guard of dynamic position colleagues in Federico Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga, Aurélien Tchouameni and most recently Jude Bellingham. They protect him and at the same time give him space and passing points.

Master of ceremonies at the Royal Court of Real Madrid: Toni Kross cheers with his teammate Jude Bellingham.

Diego Souto / Getty

That’s what it’s all about for Kroos, who is extremely unpretentious as a footballer; In his youth he was a ten-point scorer, but he willingly moved further back in order to act as a “brilliant liaison player between offense and defense” (Nagelsmann). “I would rather touch the ball a hundred times and not score a goal than forty times and score one,” he once said about his ideal game.

In Spain, the country of Xavis and Busquets, they value this profile more than perhaps anywhere else. The chroniclers see Kroos as a kind of German variation, which they load with positive Germano stereotypes such as efficiency, stability or rationality.

They were amazed at the coolness with which he left FC Bayern, probably the strongest club team in the world, for Real Madrid in 2014, or at the old-fashioned trick of playing with the same white football boots for ten years and even wearing them himself cleaning. The contrast to the more emotional south attracts – and allows each other to live in a high level of mutual respect.

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Germany has an ambivalent relationship with Toni Kroos

With Germany it is more difficult. Kroos’ homeland maintains an ambivalent relationship with a professional whose life’s achievements are honored: his many titles, his uncanny consistency. But on an emotional level, the fans never really warmed up to someone who seemed to have everything coming to him and who didn’t embody the blood-sweat-tears football that at least traditionalists still demand. Kroos is not a home-maker, and from a distance he can easily come across as arrogant, but in person he comes across as quick-witted.

The man from Greifswald, born in the year of reunification in 1990, is essentially a very German character – independent and honest, but also sometimes as quick-tempered and didactic as in that ZDF interview. The irony at the time was that his reaction was at least as “typically German” as he perceived the questioning to be too critical in his opinion.

Who is “typically German” here? Toni Kroos lectures a reporter.


Last summer, Kroos also commented more directly and undiplomatically on the national team: “Kicking along without much fuss,” he stated, and categorically ruled out a revision of his resignation in 2021.

Nagelsmann, who is advised by the same agency as Kroos, still managed to change his mind in “extremely many conversations” and will make him the center of his European Championship team. His routine and ball security can calm the frayed nerves of the team and nation, according to the national coaching plan. Toni Kroos is supposed to play the quiet ball in the German European Championship roulette.

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