Zidane would have told me if he was leaving Madrid, says Kroos

By Sports Desk May 26, 2021

Toni Kroos has denied claims Zinedine Zidane has already announced to the Real Madrid squad that he is stepping down as head coach.

Reports earlier this month suggested the Frenchman informed his players of his decision to quit ahead of the 2-2 league draw with Sevilla on May 9.

However, Kroos – who assisted two goals in that game but missed Madrid's final three matches after being rested and then contracting coronavirus – has labelled those rumours a "blatant lie".

"It's been said everywhere, even in Germany, that he has already announced his departure to the team," Kroos said on his Einfach mal Luppen podcast. 

"It's a blatant lie. Zizou and I have a good relationship. Without a doubt he would have told me. 

"I can't confirm it and I don't know how this will end, but I can say it's always fun working with him."

Kroos was echoing the views of team-mate Karim Benzema, who said in an interview with L'Equipe earlier this week that Zidane will not be leaving the Santiago Bernabeu.

Zidane revealed after his side's final LaLiga game of the season, a 2-1 win against Villarreal on Sunday, that he will hold talks with the club this week.

The growing speculation over the 48-year-old's future comes on the back of Madrid's first trophyless campaign since 2009-10.

Los Blancos finished second in LaLiga, despite an 18-game unbeaten run to see out the campaign – their best-such run since Carlo Ancelotti's time in charge in 2013-14.

They also suffered a shock early Copa del Rey exit to Alcoyano, were eliminated from the Champions League by Chelsea at the semi-final stage and lost to Athletic Bilbao in the Supercopa de Espana semi-finals.

But long-serving midfielder Kroos, who has just completed his seventh season with Madrid, is confident his side will bounce back in the 2021-22 campaign.

"A season without a title is never good for Real Madrid," he said. "But not many people towards the start of the season would have expected us to reach a European semi-final.

"We also fought for the title until the last day. It wasn't a good season, but at least we were there competing.

"There are of course many questions about how Madrid will perform next season. But I am certain about one thing - Madrid will fight again, I can guarantee it.

"We will return next year and fight for everything. I have no doubt about that. The experience of being here for seven years tells me that."

On an individual level, Kroos enjoyed a positive 2020-21 campaign with three goals and 10 assists in 28 league games.

Only Marcos Llorente (11) and Iago Aspas (13), in nine and five games more respectively, managed a higher number of assists in the Spanish top flight this season.

The 2.84 chances created per game by Kroos, meanwhile, is the most of anyone to have played more than three times this season, with Alaves' Lucas Perez next on the list with 2.7.

Reflecting on Madrid's campaign, Kroos said: "We were not consistent enough this season. Everyone has problems, including us. Yet in my opinion we still showed character this season.

"We had a lot of injuries and the coronavirus problems were extreme for us, yet we didn't give up and gave everything to the end, though it couldn't be."

Related items

  • T20 World Cup: Azam and Rizwan shine as Pakistan cruise to first win over India T20 World Cup: Azam and Rizwan shine as Pakistan cruise to first win over India

    Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan both scored half-centuries as Pakistan recorded their first ever T20 World Cup win over India with a 10-wicket triumph.

    India had lost just one of their last eight T20I meetings with Pakistan while they had collected five successive T20 World Cup wins – the joint longest streak in the competition.

    But Shaheen Afridi (3-31) gave his country early hope as he struck twice to remove both Rohit Sharma for a first-ball duck and KL Rahul (three), with Hasan Ali (2-44) dismissing Suryakumar Yadav (11) to leave India 36-3 at the end of the powerplay.

    However, captain Virat Kohli (57) – who has scored the most runs in men's T20I history (3,216) - responded emphatically as he registered his 29th half-century in the format to lift his side to 151-7 at the end of their 20-over allocation.

    Kohli's side had lost all eight T20Is in which they posted a first-innings total under 160 since 2018 and that trend looked set to continue as Azam (68 not out) and Rizwan (79 not out) enjoyed a century opening stand inside 13 overs.

    The openers motored on as they managed the highest opening partnership ever against India, Azam taking 40 balls to reach his half-century and Rizwan taking one delivery more before the former sealed victory with 13 balls to spare in their first Super 12 Group 2 game.

    India's openers struggle

    Rohit, who has hit the second-most sixes in the history of the competition (133), offered India experience at the top of the order but his tournament got off to the worst start as he was removed lbw for a golden duck.

    His opening partner, Rahul, did not last much longer as the Punjab Kings captain disappointed following warm-up scores of 51 and 39 after his blistering 98 not out in his final IPL 2021 game.

    Magical Azam continues remarkable form

    In the last three years, no one has scored more T20I runs than Azam's 1,241. Kohli is second on the list, with 1,050.

    The Pakistan leader produced a captain's knock to see his side over the line in a famous victory, perfectly kick-starting their World Cup campaign as he smashed six fours and two maximums for his 68.

  • Busquets: Barcelona didn't deserve to lose El Clasico Busquets: Barcelona didn't deserve to lose El Clasico

    Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets believes his side deserved more after losing 2-1 to Real Madrid in the first Clasico of the season 2-1 on Sunday.

    David Alaba and Lucas Vazquez gave Madrid a 2-0 lead before Sergio Aguero grabbed a late consolation for Barca deep into added time.

    The defeat was Barca's fourth consecutive Clasico defeat across all competitions - their longest losing run in the fixture since seven losses in a row between April 1962 and February 1965.

    Busquets, 33, felt that the Blaugrana should not have ended up on the losing side, but were undone by conceding the first goal.

    "They got it right in the first part and we didn't," Busquets said to Barca TV post-match. "We knew they were going to let us have the ball but they had speed with Rodrigo and Vinicius.

    "In a team with these characteristics, when you lose the ball it is difficult to recover. And they have scored a goal in a kick, not in a play. That changes the game completely. I don't think we deserved to lose, but that's football.

    "When there are games of these characteristics, the one who scores first has the advantage. In the second half, we had possession and control, but we had not made clear chances."

    Busquets refused to blame the referee for the result and insisted that Barca remain positive despite being five points behind the top three.

    "Yes, I have seen [the controversial incidents], but it does not matter," Busquets continued. "The referee has been good in general lines and I am not going to respond to the controversies.

    "A small gap [in the table] is opening but I think we are growing little by little. Now we are going to recover Ousmane who will give us things in attack. We have to continue."

    Barca head coach Ronald Koeman - who has now lost five games against Real Madrid (three) and Atletico Madrid (two), as many as in the previous nine seasons in the competition - agreed with his veteran midfielder, insisting that his men played well but that going behind allowed their opponents to play on the break.

    "It is always difficult to understand a result like this because we made merits to have another result, especially in the first half," Koeman said. 

    "It depended on a very clear chance to have 1-0 and instead, they scored 0-1, then it was complicated because they defended the result and we knew that is very dangerous.

    "The crowd was phenomenal until the last second, we tried but we didn't get the result we wanted. We were good in the first half. We had a lot of ball possession."

  • El Clasico: Alaba and Vinicius illustrate widening gap between Madrid and Barca El Clasico: Alaba and Vinicius illustrate widening gap between Madrid and Barca

    David Alaba is one of few footballers who can claim to have experienced consistent success against Barcelona in the 21st century and he once again proved a thorn in their side as El Clasico went in Real Madrid's favour at Camp Nou.

    In three games against Barca for Bayern Munich, Alaba enjoyed a 100 per cent win record.

    Bayern scored 15 goals and conceded just two across those matches, eight of those coming in Die Roten's incredible Champions League quarter-final win of 2020.

    And the Austria international remains unbeaten versus the Blaugrana, his stunning left-foot finish helping settle a game in which Barca misfired in their first Clasico since Lionel Messi's departure and Madrid's brightest young talent rose to the occasion.

     

    Alaba opens his account in style

    Alaba's goal, his first since joining Madrid, was one worthy of winning a fixture of such magnitude. Having won the ball from Memphis Depay on the edge of his own box, he surged forward before finding Vinicius Junior on the left flank.

    The former Bayern star initially wanted the return pass but Vinicius eschewed that option, instead playing a superb ball to Rodrygo Goes in the centre.

    Rodrygo's pass to find Alaba continuing his charge was inch-perfect, only bettered by the quality of a blistering finish from just inside the area.

    Barca struggled to deal with Madrid's threat down the left flank throughout, Vinicius taking the chance to emerge as the star of a Clasico absent its departed modern-day leading man.

    Vinicius shines in the spotlight

    Vinicius went into the fixture having scored seven goals and provided the assist for three in all competitions. He did not add to either of those tallies but his influence across the Brazilian's 87 minutes on the pitch was obvious,

    Ensuring Sergino Dest endured a difficult afternoon at both ends of the pitch, Vinicius attempted a game-high eight dribbles, four of which were successful.

    No player on the field participated in (20) or won more duels (10) as Vinicius excelled at putting Barca under pressure.

    Only Depay (six) and Ansu Fati (seven) had more touches in the opposition box, yet Barca's inability to make the most of those touches was telling.

    Barca bereft of attacking inspiration

    Alaba's shot that gave Madrid the lead had an Expected Goals (xG) value of 0.08, reflecting the difficulty he should have had in beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

    It came seven minutes after Dest had blazed high over the crossbar with the goal seemingly at his mercy from close range. Barca did not have a chance as presentable until Sergio Aguero scored with a point-blank effort from effectively the final kick of the game after Lucas Vazquez had put it to bed with Madrid's second goal.

    Barca finished with 12 shots but only two on target. Madrid hit the target with five of their 10 efforts. Nine of Barca's shots came from inside the box but they ended a frustrating encounter with only two 'big chances' compared to three for Los Blancos.

    Those numbers are reflective of a game in which, without Messi there to stretch Madrid's shape, Carlo Ancelotti's men succeeded in staying deep and compact and hitting Barca on the counter, which they twice did to devastating effect.

    When Barca got into the final third, the lack of creativity and threat in contrast to Madrid was startling.

    Ronald Koeman could do nothing to prevent Messi from leaving under the financial pressures faced by Barca and he certainly cannot be blamed for a howitzer of a strike from Alaba that tilted matters in Madrid's favour.

    Yet there will surely be questions asked as to how a man who played under Johan Cruyff at Barca can oversee a team that, at least on Sunday, was so desperately short of the attacking flair that has for so long defined this famous club.

    The final score may have looked tight but, in the post-Messi era, the gap between Barca and their arch-rivals is a chasm.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.