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HomeSportsMidfield magician Kroos’ return will add impetus to Germany’s Euro campaign

Midfield magician Kroos’ return will add impetus to Germany’s Euro campaign

Toni Kroos is ‘in the mood’ right now. The 34-year-old German midfielder has never turned down a chance to make it clear that he did not intend to stretch out his career for the sake of being around. However, he had lost the chance to quit while ahead with his national team.

After going from world champions to not being able to get out of the World Cup group stage, the German men’s national team was in trouble going into the 2020 Euro Cup.

With its long-time serving legendary coach Joachim Low announcing his decision to step down after the 2020 Euros, the team wanted to forget the disastrous Russia World Cup and give the manager a proper farewell. But it failed to deliver and crashed out of the tournament with a round-of-16 loss to England.

With a poor string of results and the prospect of a new coach after 15 years, it was clear the time was right for a generation change. Kroos, for whom the team always comes first, surprised the world with his decision to retire at the age of 31 to make way for the generation change. Now the midfield magician has surprised, and excited, the world again with his decision to don the German colours again.

After his shock resignation three years ago, fans of Spanish giants Real Madrid — whose midfield remains under the control of Kroos — were dreading the day the maestro decided to call it a day.

With his clear intention of not putting in a long shift, like his iconic partner in crime Luka Modric, Madridistas were prepared to see that day. But after leaving the national team, Kroos did nothing but keep getting better. The decline that he predicted his age would bring by is nowhere to be seen, and the German keeps making his accurate long balls from deep within his own half to effortlessly switch plays or start a counter.

With Kroos in his best-ever form, and the team performing better than expected for one depleted by injuries, the perfect ending to a glorious career was right in front of the midfield magician. But he kept his word of giving it his all till his body allows; and the signs that his body has a lot more to give is evident from the way he has played this season.

But Kroos’ departure was not an ease in transition for Germany. After back-to-back group stage exits from FIFA men’s World Cups (2018 and 2022), German football found itself in deep trouble. Hansi Flick succeeded Low to manage the team, coming on the back of a European treble with Bayern Munich.

But he was unable to do with the national team what he did with Bayern, and his tenure came to an early exit a year later. Now with Julian Nagelsmann at the helm, the team is determined to get back to winning ways. And Nagelsmann believes Kroos is key to that.

Special role

Nagelsmann acknowledges the ‘special role’ Kroos has in Madrid. “He guides young players and shows them how they can work well together as part of a team,” said the coach after Kroos’ decision to return. This ‘special role’ is what Germany is lacking right now.

Kroos is aware of the role he has to play. He “has a very clear view of the state of our national team,” Nagelsmann had said. The team is filled with immense talent, like it always did, but there were no mentors playing beside them till now.

And with the young core, including the young manager, and presence of calm and experience in the form of Kroos, Germany is a serious contender for the 2024 Euros to be held in its own backyard.

Spanish publication Marca once described Kroos as a “one-man orchestra”, which is exactly what he does in the middle of the ground. While his partnership with Modric and the trio the two made with Brazilian Casemiro is lauded by many, the significance of Kroos lies in the simplicity with which he manages to orchestrate a game from the deep.

Kroos was considered a Jahrhunerttalent, talent of the century, in Germany when he was selected by Bayern Munich from the Hansa Rostock in 2006. Four years later, he made the 23-men list for Germany’s World Cup team, and there was no looking back.

Low has praised the “symmetry and balance” that Kroos brings to the national team. French legend Zinedine Zidane — under whom Kroos played a pivotal role in winning Real Madrid the historic three-peat Champions League — labelled Kroos the “perfect player”.

While Nagelsmann is also trying to convince right-back Joshua Kimmich to come out of retirement, the availability of Kroos will be a huge relief for the manager.

A player who has played in five Champions League finals and one World Cup final, and won them all, is what Germany needs at the moment. He is, in Nagelsmann’s opinion “a player who will stay calm and keep his composure even in a tight European Championship and who you can always pass under pressure”.

Kroos is one of the loudest critics of players’ busy schedules combining club matches and international matches with not enough breaks to help them relax and rejuvenate, increasing the chances of injury. Some fans worry the toll of extra international matches might take Kroos past his breaking point.

But that is a concern most of the football world has decided to deal with later. For now, they just want to see one of the most exquisite passers of the ball the game has ever seen glide the ball to its destination.

With their beloved player returning to the international stage, both German supporters and Madridistas have their hopes high. While German fans see a major trophy in ten years as achievable, Real Madrid enthusiasts hope the decision is Kroos’ way of saying he is not done yet and will be here for more.

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