The busiest international break in recent memory has finally concluded and club football is ready to return this weekend. As we get ready for the resumption of LaLiga, here is a special ‘Three answers and three questions’ column that looks at three questions that were answered during the international break and three new questions that the break has thrown up.
1. Would Kroos come back healthy?
There was some surprise when Toni Kroos was called up by Germany for these October fixtures, considering he hadn’t been able to play for Real Madrid since suffering an injury in the Real Betis win. But, the midfielder was on the mend and had more or less recovered by the time he left to join up with Die Mannschaft. It was even more surprising that he played 90 minutes against both Ukraine and Switzerland, but he looks to be back to his normal self. Kroos doesn’t get injured often and hadn’t done so since last October. Now, he’s back and returns to Valdebebas ready to go.
2. Who would win the Ødegaard vs Jović duel?
There are almost always instances of Real Madrid teammates facing each other during international breaks, but this October break threw up a very interesting tie as Norway and Serbia met for a European Championship qualifying playoff. It was a one-off match between Martin Ødegaard and Luka Jović’s sides, with a place in a playoff final against Scotland at stake. This was a fascinating game, but… Jović didn’t play a single minute of it. He’s not a regular starter for Serbia and watched on from the bench as his side won in extra time against the Norwegians. So, Serbia progress and Norway are out, but Ødegaard had a good international break overall, providing three assists in total.
3. Who would deliver the headline quotes?
Club press officers across the world are anxious during every international break. For around 10 days, their players are out of their control and give more interviews than they normally do, doing so in their native tongue to journalists in their home countries who they’ve known for years. That’s why the most controversial interviews and quotes tend to come out during international breaks. So, the question was: Who from Real Madrid would have the most eyebrow-raising lines for the media? In the end, it turned out to be a non-international who grabbed the headlines as Borja Mayoral had some very interesting comments about Real Madrid’s summer business and about Luka Jović.
1. How will the international break affect Zidane’s line-up for Cádiz?
In this extra long international break, several Real Madrid players were with their national teams until Thursday morning. This means that they’ll only have had one day of training, on Friday, ahead of Saturday’s match against Cádiz. So, how will this affect Zinedine Zidane’s line-up for the weekend’s game, keeping in mind that the Champions League and El Clásico are coming up straight afterwards too? Casemiro just played 90 minutes with Brazil against Peru in Lima on Tuesday night, for example, while Raphaël Varane, Ferland Mendy and Luka Modrić all played 90 minutes in Wednesday’s night’s Croatia vs France match. Zidane won’t want to risk any player who isn’t 100 percent, so this could open the door for the non-internationals who have been training at Valdebebas these past two weeks, players such as Marcelo, Marco Asensio and Isco.
2. What will Gerard Moreno’s injury mean for Kubo?
The ‘FIFA Virus’ may have left Real Madrid unscathed, but it has hurt Villarreal as Gerard Moreno had to leave the Spain camp early with an injury that’ll rule him out for a month. This is bad news for Villarreal, but it could open a door for Takefusa Kubo to earn more minutes with the Yellow Submarine. Some of the reaction to the loanee’s lack of playing time so far was overblown, as he’d just arrived and he was always going to be given more minutes when the Europa League started. Now, Villarreal’s continental calendar is about to get going and they’re a man down in attack. Kubo will play more now. It remains to be seen just how much more and in what role exactly.
3. Is Luka Modrić on course for his best season yet?
It may seem strange to say this about a former Ballon d’Or winner and about a player who just turned 35, but Luka Modrić might be having his best season yet. The midfielder was excellent for Croatia in their 2-1 loss to France this international break, following on from the sublime performances he has been putting in at club level to start 2020/21. So, could he be in the middle of his best ever season? Even when he won the Ballon d’Or, his start to the 2017/18 campaign wasn’t as good as his first few weeks of this term have been. We’re watching something special from one of the all-time greats.