Football Features

Why Toni Kroos’ international U-turn is a huge Euro 2024 boost to Germany

By Squawka News

Why Toni Kroos' international U-turn is a huge Euro 2024 boost to Germany

Published: 18:14, 23 February 2024

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has offered a huge boost to Germany’s Euro 2024 chances by announcing his return to international football. 

Kroos hasn’t featured for Germany since their 2-0 defeat to England at Wembley in the Euro 2020 first knockout round, calling time on his international career following that humiliation. After the match, Kroos came in for particularly harsh criticism from Germany and Bayern Munich legend Uli Hoeneß.

“I like Kroos, he showed world-class performances in the past. He was great for Bayern – but his way of playing is completely done. He no longer fits with today’s football,” Hoeneß said back in 2021.

“We are 1-0 down against England in the last quarter of an hour, Kroos no longer crossed the halfway line. He played sideways, then sideways again, until the opposing defence had organized themselves

“Bayern players are super self-confident guys who had a big say with Hansi Flick. I know they were totally unhappy with the situation, with Low’s tactics. Yet they accepted it. I don’t understand, I didn’t know them like that.

“They should have said ‘Toni Kroos no longer fits into this football with his sideways game. Our football is played vertically. The ball is played forward all the time’”.

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Another Deutschland icon, Lothar Matthäus, also stuck the boot in on Kroos, telling Kicker: “Kroos is no longer international class. Personally, I have nothing against Toni Kroos, but I don’t agree with the way he plays. At the Euros, you saw that it’s not just about the speed of the player, but also that of the ball.

“He actually does that quite well with one or two touches, but when he passes the ball, he loses speed again because there is hardly any gain in space and the pace is taken off.”

In the time since that defeat to England, Kroos has not slowed down at club level, playing over 130 times across all competitions for Real Madrid, helping Los Blancos to Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey honours. And, in fairness, Matthäus himself did name the 34-year-old as Germany’s ‘best midfielder of all time’ in 2022.

Well, regardless of who agrees or disagrees, Kroos is back, announcing his return to Die Mannschaft on Thursday.

“People, short and painless: I will play for Germany again in March. Why? Because I was asked by the federal coach, I’m in the mood and I’m sure that with the team at the European Championship, much more is possible than most believe right now!” Kroos wrote on social media.

He added: “Julian contacted me and asked me if I could imagine it, which wasn’t in my mind until then. We agreed I would take the idea with me and see what happens. I’ve thought about the idea: What if so? What if not? With every conversation, without going into too much detail, I became more and more convinced.

“That’s why I wanted to decide in good time so as not to keep anyone waiting. I’m very, very happy with my decision. It took me a while to be certain Of course I want to help. But I’m definitely not the savior either. I’m just a cog that meshes with the others to hopefully make it work. I know the boys, I know the players, all of them have great qualities.

“Now it’s time to show that as a team I still feel good and physically ready to do it without any problems. The fact that I’m needed for the tournament in my country is an incentive.”

A master with the ball and an expert in picking out a ‘zuckerpass‘, Kroos will add invaluable quality and experience to a Germany side still finding its identity ahead of hosting the Euros. But it’s not just that. Even in his advancing years, Kroos still holds up statistically as one of the very best in Europe.

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5 reasons why Toni Kroos’ return is vital for Germany’s Euro 2024 chances

1. Conductor

As mentioned, Kroos is the meister of the ‘zuckerpass’, carving defences open from pretty much anywhere on the pitch with his incredible vision, range and accuracy. In fact, among players to feature in at least 1,000 minutes, nobody in Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues beats Kroos when it comes to passes into the final third per 90 minutes. The German sits on 16 in this particular metric, one ahead of his nearest rival, Trent Alexander-Arnold.

2. Kroos control 

What has really stood Kroos out from the pack when it comes to his progressive passing isn’t just the volume, but also his sheer accuracy. In fact, nobody has played more successful passes into the final third than the German in Europe’s top seven leagues so far this season (250).

Germany will be in ‘Kroos control’ at Euro 2024.

3. Nobody better

Earlier in February, we tasked our followers on X with finding a better passer in Europe right now than Kroos and let’s just say that proved to be a very, very difficult undertaking indeed.

Even the likes of Alexander-Arnold and Martin Odegaard can’t compete.

This is hardly surprising when Kroos’ overall 1,609 passes completed in La Liga this season — at a 94.42% accuracy rate — is the third-highest in the division.

4. Zauberfuss

Now, we’ve always known Toni Kroos has magic in his feet and we’ve seen him dispatch many a free-kick over the years, rightly placing him in the ‘zauberfuss‘ (magic foot) category. However, his wizardry extends far beyond planting one in the top corner. Indeed, no player has provided more assists than Kroos (7) in La Liga this season, with the veteran creating the sixth-most chances (48) of any player in the division.

Four of those assists have come directly from a set-piece and that alone could prove a vital weapon for Julian Naglesmann this summer.

5. Experience

Kroos returns to the international fold with 106 caps already under his belt. Of players still currently active for Germany, only Thomas Müller (126) and Manuel Neuer (117) have more.

In fact, if you swapped Müller for Kroos in Nagelsmann’s most recent selection for friendlies against Turkey and Austria in November, the midfielder — a veteran of five major tournaments and a World Cup winner in 2014 — would be 24 caps clear of any other player in the squad.

There’s nothing quite like experience when it comes to international tournaments and Kroos has that in abundance having stood up so many times in the past when Germany has needed him most.