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Kroos Dictates, Germany Advance

Another brilliant match from Toni Kroos helps Germany advance to the quarter-finals

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Toni Kroos has been one of the standout players of this year's Euro 2016, with no signs of slowing down. If he's not involved in a direct scoring opportunity, he's dictating from deep, in the pocket just in front of the back four where he can organize the team and distribute the ball while looking for chasms of space in even the most compact of defensive lines. Today's round of 16 match against Slovakia was just another routine performance for Kroos, who completed 87 of his 96 passes

Not unique to this match by any means from Toni Kroos, he was - as he's been all tournament - slinging in set-pieces that have been unparalleled, giving defenders all kinds of problems. None of his set-pieces directly assisted Germany's goals, but they caused problems every time, and in the instance of Julian Draxler's goal in the 63rd minute, it was Kroos' pin-point corner kick onto Mats Hummels' head which instigated the initial bounce that eventually fell to Draxler.

Not a stretch, and again, not unique to this game alone. It's almost as if every other German player in the box is a decoy to the player Kroos has already decided to deliver his cross to.

Kroos just stands out from the rest of the pack, even when he doesn't show up on the score sheet. Today, he made more passes than any other player on the pitch, and thus far, he's made more passes than anyone else in this tournament. He'll probably be the tournament's top passer when this is all done, unless Andres Iniesta goes on an absolute passing frenzy.

Non-Madridista notes..

  • Boateng channeled his inner-Modric on Germany's opening goal - scoring a one-time volley from a similar position to Luka's opening goal of the tournament. It's a difficult ball to hit.
  • Mesut Ozil missed a penalty before Germany's 2nd goal arrived. It's not the greatest trend for Ozil, who already doesn't have the reputation of a great penalty-taker. He doesn't wind-up much before he strikes the ball, and this quote from Arsene Wenger from 2014 is still relevant: "What can I say? He missed his penalty. I prefer people who run properly at the ball."
  • Other standout players for Germany, aside Toni Kroos, were Julian Draxler and Mats Hummels. Draxler really had his breakout game today, and aside from his goal, had some incredible dribbling sequences from the left flank. Hummels? Just a monster at the back. Phenomenal positioning, perfect tackling. 

Germany now await the winner of the tomorrow's Spain - Italy match.

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