Toni Kroos: “It is the final for us,” he said. “The Champions League is starting now. We know this is a tough game and not only because of injuries.

Atalanta are a great opponent for Real Madrid

Real Madrid travel to Atalanta on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16-tie, and Toni Kroos spoke to the press. The German midfielder believes that the opening clash between the two sides is similar to the final itself, calling for maximum defensive caution on the free-flowing Serie A side. “It is the final for us,” he said. “The Champions League is starting now. We know this is a tough game and not only because of injuries. They are a great opponent and play well. We have to control their game with a ball. And we are capable of something offensive, but we have to defend ourselves well.” When asked who he will choose between Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe, Kroos believes that the best option lies at home. ‘Benzema,’ he said.

In the squad, all positions are important

Despite acknowledging the young duo’s quality, the Germany international insists such conversations are irrelevant before Wednesday’s game. “They are two outstanding players and can help any squad. The problem is that tomorrow they will not help me because I’d be focused on my play,” he said. “It’s not for me to discuss. The other is a question for Florentino.” He hopes that his midfield trident, Casemiro and Luka Modric, will play an essential role in the tie. “I hope it will be tough for the Atalanta boss to explain how we play,” he said. “In these games, all positions are important. If we are in the middle together and control the game, it helps the team a lot. But it’s not just about the central midfield.”

Real Madrid have nine first-team players injured

He says the three feel more motivated than ever to help the team. “We have dominated for many years, and we want to continue that,” he said. “Our idea is to be the best centre midfield to help attackers and defenders. We play for the success of the team, not for people to say that we are excellent.” Real Madrid have nine first-team players injured in the first leg, including captain Sergio Ramos, and Kroos admits that this list of injuries is challenging for his team. “It’s a shame to have so many injuries, of course,” he said.

 

Despite these absences, Kroos does not feel any additional pressure to lead the side. I always try to give my point of view on and off the pitch, and then I play the same way,” he said. “My task does not change much due to injuries. I always give everything to the team on and off the field.”

The German commented on the current standard of Spanish football, saying that despite the lack of European success, the teams are still more competitive than ever. “For many years, the Spaniards have been winning in Europe, but not at the moment. Every year we all fight for victory, and the overall level in Spain is good, and this is good again this year. It’s complicated to win LaLiga games this season.”