Tractors and the Olympics don’t often get mentioned in the same sentence, however, two worlds briefly collided when Toni Kroos scored his ‘Olympic’ goal against Valencia in the Spanish Supercup last week.
The goal was demonstrative of everything that Toni Kroos - and Real Madrid - weren't just a few short months ago. It was a presentation of quick thinking, supreme technique and more than a pinch of talent on the German’s part, all qualities that have returned to Los Blancos under Zidane. It was also a showing of something different that has arisen from midfield this season, with Kroos a prime example of it.
The goal against Valencia was the German’s fourth of the season, having already scored three in the league, and puts him on course for his highest scoring season in a Real Madrid shirt. He needs just two more goals to surpass the five he got in 2017/18 and is four away from his career best of nine in 2009/10 with Bayer Leverkusen.
Should he fail to reach double figures it won’t be for the lack of trying, hitting the most shots per 90 since he left Bayern Munich in 2013/14. Kroos is also enjoying highs in Xg per 90 and Xa per 90.
Out of possesion, Kroos has become more of a hustler, tracking down the ball with alot more intent than we have seen in past incarnation of the German international. His passing accuracy remains supreme and he needs just two more assists to match his final tally for last season.
Kroos isn’t the only one launching a revival this season. Luka Modric looked like a ghost throughout 2018/19, however, a better rested Croatian has proven a dangerous weapon in Madrid’s midfield arsenal.
Similar to Kroos, Modric is posting his second highest shots per 90 with Real Madrid. He has already matched his goalscoring exploits for the previous season and has matched his best goal scoring tally at Real Madrid with five.
Elsewhere, Isco already has three, Fede Valverde has two and even Casemiro, who has been season defining defensively, has managed to match his Uruguayan partner with two. 15 goals from midfield already is no small contribution and its currently greatly helped Zidane’s side to continue winning despite missing its main danger men.
At the heart of all this is Toni Kroos who improves and evolves despite his, in footballing terms, advanced age. Its often said about the German that he was the bargain of the decade, however, what continues to surprise is the hundred different ways he continues to prove it.
In a wider context, the incoming arrivals of Donny Van de Beek and, eventually, Martin Odegaard always promised quality on the horizon, however, that Real Madrid have found a way to reinvent and revive their current midfield. Continuing this form into the new year gives great hope for the possibility of more silverware in the near future.