Luka Modric acknowledged Real Madrid are in a "very difficult situation" with their Champions League hopes in the balance following another defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Madrid crashed to a 2-0 loss at Shakhtar on Tuesday in a result which leaves the LaLiga champions third in Group B and facing group-stage elimination heading into the final matchday.

Upstaged by Deportivo Alaves in LaLiga on Saturday, Madrid slumped to back-to-back defeats after succumbing to second-half strikes from Dentinho and Manor Solomon in Kiev.

Madrid have now conceded nine goals in the Champions League this season, their worst defensive total at this stage in the competition's history.

Zinedine Zidane's side also lost to Shakhtar at home and so trail Tuesday's opponents due to their head-to-head record, sitting a point behind pool leaders Borussia Monchengladbach but two ahead of Inter.

Reflecting on the reverse, midfielder Modric said: "It's difficult to explain after a first half where we played quite well and where we created a few chances, but we couldn't score the goals.

"In the second half, after they scored, everything changed and we started playing another game. We started getting nervous on the pitch. It's difficult to explain.

"It's a very difficult situation but it is what it is. There's still a game left and we're going to give everything to try to win that last game."

He added: "We lack the consistency that we've always had. We have one amazing game, two bad games, one good, two bad... it is what it is.

"We lack consistency and we have to improve as soon as possible."

Madrid ended a run of nine consecutive matches scoring at least one goal in the Champions League group stage (23 goals in total) – the longest run since another of 16 games between November 2015 and September 2018.

Meanwhile, all five of Shakhtar's goals in the competition this season have been scored against Zinedine Zidane's Madrid, who are seven points adrift of LaLiga leaders Real Sociedad.

Shakhtar became the fifth team to win their two Champions League group-stage clashes against Madrid in a single season, following CSKA Moscow in 2018-19, Juventus in 2008-09, Bayern Munich in the 1999-2000 second stage and Ajax in 1995-96.

"When our opponents go ahead, we're not right," Modric said. "We lose confidence and we don't play as we did before we conceded. We have to change that. We have to find solutions to improve.

"We created chances but we struggled to score. If we don't score, things get difficult for us. That's how it is, that's football. It's not maths and it's not always going to go as we'd like.

"We have to look at the positives, there's still a game to go and we're going to fight until the end."

Madrid can still guarantee their progress with a win when they host Gladbach on December 9 after travelling to Sevilla in LaLiga on Saturday.

"If you're always winning, you have more confidence, and when you lose, [not having confidence] is normal," said Toni Kroos. "As a team, you feel a lot better when you're winning and we have to get back to winning.

"We'll look at the situation in the group. All we have to do is win the last game, which is what we can do ourselves. If Gladbach don't win [against Inter, speaking ahead of the Nerazzurri's 3-2 win], we have it in our hands."

Toni Kroos can see the merits of a European Super League despite his criticism of potential additions to an already hectic schedule.

The idea of Europe's elite clubs forming their own division has long been mooted but came to the fore again after outgoing Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu claimed the Blaugrana had agreed to join such a league.

Kroos' Real Madrid would surely be involved, too, but the midfielder this week took aim at FIFA and UEFA due to the number of games top players are being asked to play - particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Seemingly referring to UEFA's Nations League and a possible super league, he said: "With the invention of all these new things, we seem to be just the puppets of FIFA and UEFA."

Further discussing the purported move with Marca, though, the Germany international highlighted some benefits.

"What I wanted to say is that, without a doubt, there are positive things about it," Kroos told the Spanish newspaper.

"We are going to see many matches of a very high level that we have only seen in the semi-finals of the Champions League. And we all like those games.

"It's going to make football very interesting for the fans of the teams and for those who don't have a specific [team]. We all like to watch football at the highest level."

However, he added: "You also have to take care of small teams. They are all very competitive. The super league is something else. I worry more about other things."

Toni Kroos is confident Zinedine Zidane will turn Real Madrid's form around – just as he has done in the past.

LaLiga champions Madrid have endured a difficult start to the new season, winning just six of their 11 games in all competitions.

There were shock back-to-back home defeats to Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk, while Los Blancos were thrashed 4-1 at Valencia prior to the international break.

Madrid have also landed big wins against rivals Barcelona and Inter, though, and midfielder Kroos acknowledges consistency is a big issue.

"It is true that we are missing something. It is not a secret. Everyone can see it," he told Marca. "We need to be consistent.

"If you see the results, there are two good, one bad, two good, one bad. We have to do better.

"You watch some games and you realise that it can be done better, [you watch] against Barcelona, ​​the first half against Inter.

"Clearly we can improve, but we lack continuity. If we did well against Barcelona, ​​we also have to play like this against Cadiz or Shakhtar at home.

"There is a lot of difference – sometimes very good and sometimes very bad. We must improve if we want to win something."

Zidane took responsibility for the Valencia reverse, the first time Madrid had conceded four goals in a league match since a 5-1 Clasico defeat in October 2018 that cost Julen Lopetegui his job.

The conversation around Zidane has not yet reached the same fever pitch, but Kroos knows the Frenchman will be aware of the need to deliver results.

"He knows that, at Real Madrid, if you don't have the results and you don't meet expectations, there are discussions," Kroos said. "That is why we are at this club. It is normal.

"With Zidane, we have already lived through times like this and we usually come out of bad spells. A few weeks ago, after losing to Cadiz and Shakhtar, we went to Barcelona and played a great game.

"We live like this and the coach is the first to know what happens at this club if you don't have results.

"In the end, what we have left is to improve and try to win games. The coach will find the solution."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has vowed to continue with his choreographed celebrations in response to criticism from Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos. 

Speaking on his Einfach mal Luppen podcast, which he hosts along with his brother Felix, Kroos took aim at fellow professionals for their over-the-top antics after scoring.

Referencing a celebration by Aubameyang, who has previously sported Spiderman and Black Panther masks, father-of-three Kroos said: "I find it silly. It's even worse if there's an object hidden in their socks.

"Aubameyang once celebrated and took out a mask. That's where it ends with me. I don't think that's a good role model, either. What nonsense."

Arsenal striker Aubameyang did not take kindly to Kroos' comments and personally responded to the Germany international on Twitter.

"By the way, does this @ToniKroos have kids?" he posted. "Just to remember I did it for my son [a] few times and I will do it again. 

"I wish you have kids one day and make them happy like this Junior School pupils Talk and don’t Forget #maskon #staysafe."

The post was accompanied by an image of himself drawn by a school pupil after the youngster was asked to think about what happiness meant to them.

Toni Kroos has accused FIFA and UEFA of treating footballers like "puppets" by creating new tournaments at club and international level.

Kroos will this week represent Germany in the Nations League, a competition formed two years ago with the aim of replacing friendly matches.

The Club World Cup has also recently been expanded and there is talk of a new European Super League being formed in the coming years.

However, Real Madrid midfielder Kroos is completely against the idea of cramming more fixtures into an already packed schedule.

"With the invention of all these new things we seem to be just the puppets of FIFA and UEFA," he said.

"These competitions are created to suck everything out of every single player physically and to suck out as much money as possible.

"When certain things work well it is a good idea to leave them that way."

Speaking on his Einfach mal Luppen podcast, which he hosts together with brother Felix, Kroos also took aim at fellow professionals who choreograph their goal celebrations.

Referencing celebrations by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has previously sported a Spiderman mask, and Antoine Griezmann, who simulates dance moves from video game Fortnite, Kroos said: "I find it very silly.

"Even worse is if there are any objects hidden in their socks. Aubameyang once celebrated and took out a mask. That's where it ends with me.

"I don't think that's a good role model, either. What nonsense."

Casemiro scored in second-half injury time to rescue Real Madrid a 2-2 draw from a Champions League clash with Borussia Monchengladbach that threatened a serious setback for Zinedine Zidane's men.

Madrid arrived at Borussia Park buoyed by a 3-1 Clasico victory over Barcelona but were soon haunted by the sort of calamitous defending that saw them lose their Champions League Group B opener against Shakhtar Donetsk.

An error from Toni Kroos allowed the hosts an attack in which Marcus Thuram profited from some sloppy marking to score the opener, and the Frenchman netted a tap-in shortly before the hour mark to leave Madrid reeling.

The Spanish champions looked set to lose four consecutive European matches for the first time in their history before Karim Benzema scored with an acrobatic finish in the 87th minute and Casemiro swept home at the death.

The result may ease the pressure on Zidane for now, but his side must improve if their European hopes are to have any substance this season.

Toni Kroos insists the Real Madrid squad still has faith in coach Zinedine Zidane after the Frenchman came under scrutiny in the wake of some recent poor results.

Although Madrid head into Tuesday's Champions League encounter with Borussia Monchengladbach on the back of a 3-1 Clasico win over Barcelona, prior back-to-back defeats to promoted Cadiz and depleted Shakhtar Donetsk raised questions.

Both shock losses came at home, with the 3-2 reverse to Shakhtar – in which they found themselves 3-0 down at half-time – seeing Los Blancos playing catch-up right away in Champions League Group B.

The Clasico victory at Camp Nou on Saturday prevented the pressure from increasing, though another poor result in Europe will surely have Zidane on the back foot again.

But Kroos is adamant such defeats are not on the coach.

"For our part, there have never been doubts with Zidane," he told reporters. "We lose and win together.

"It is easy if something is not going well to say that there are doubts, but the result of the Clasico showed that it is not like that.

"If you play for Madrid you have to accept that if you lose matches there is criticism. The important thing is how you react and we did very well, but it is only one victory and you have to continue like this."

Similarly, Zidane seemed to give little significance to the idea he is under pressure.

"I only think about tomorrow's game," he told reporters on Monday. "I will fight until the last day and we will do things as usual. The rest, we will see."

Zidane has been given the boost of being able to include Eden Hazard in the squad for the first time this season, the Belgium star having sustained a muscle injury as he neared a return to action at the end of last month.

But the coach was not giving anything away with regards to the winger's chances of playing in Germany on Tuesday.

"If Hazard is with us it is because he is well and that is good news," Zidane said. "We are all happy to see him with us.

"Tomorrow we will see how we are going to use him. It is very positive news for us."

Germany's Toni Kroos made his 100th international appearance in a 3-3 draw with Switzerland on Tuesday, but insisted he cares more for results than the number of games he plays.

Serge Gnabry's superb finish on the hour secured a point in Nations League Group A4 for Germany, who had to come from two goals down in Cologne.

Switzerland raced into a 2-0 lead through Mario Gavranovic and Remo Freuler, though Timo Werner swiftly pulled one back before Kai Havertz equalised.

Gavranovic's second put Switzerland back ahead, only for Gnabry to restore parity once more with his 14th international goal since November 2016.

Though Kroos made a landmark appearance, his error ultimately led to Switzerland's second goal, and though content with reaching a century of caps, the 30-year-old said winning titles means much more to him than personal accolades.

"It was of course a special game for me. To have reached 100, that's a nice mark. But anyone who knows me knows that I care more about results and titles than appearances," Kroos said.

"But of course, 100 games is something nice. In the past I have played with incredibly good footballers and guys. I hope that we can build on these successes with the current team.

"Our problem was the first 10 or 15 minutes. After that we played a good game and improved our footballing skills to the last game. In the end we are not satisfied with the point because we aim to win the game."

Kroos is one of the old guard in Germany's squad, with Joachim Low having stood by his decision not to select Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller, despite the latter's sensational form for Bayern Munich.

Havertz, who took his goal brilliantly and looked sharp alongside his Chelsea team-mate Werner, believes the comeback is a step in the right direction for Germany, who have managed just one win so far in 2020.

"We came back after many setbacks, we showed our morals," Havertz said.

"We are in a process, we have a young team. We will not be dissuaded from our path and will keep trying. We have to defend more intelligently, but we saw good beginnings today."

Head coach Low added: "The game was incredibly intense. Both teams risked a lot, but also made a lot of mistakes. 

"We got into the game badly, then we showed very good morale. That was certainly positive. But we made some mistakes at the back. We consciously risked a lot, made mistakes, we have to fix that."

Real Madrid have confirmed Toni Kroos suffered a muscle injury in the 3-2 LaLiga win over Real Betis on Saturday. 

The Germany international had to be substituted in first-half stoppage time in Seville, Luka Modric coming on to replace his fellow midfielder. 

Following tests on Monday, Madrid announced Kroos has an issue in the gluteal region, though did not reveal how long the 30-year-old will be sidelined. 

“Following tests carried out today on our player, Toni Kroos, by the Real Madrid medical services, he has been diagnosed with a muscular injury to the left gluteus medius," a statement from the club read.  

"His recovery will continue to be assessed." 

Zinedine Zidane's squad are next in action on Wednesday, hosting Real Valladolid, while the reigning champions travel to Levante at the weekend. 

Kroos could also be a doubt for a trio of upcoming international fixtures. Germany play Turkey in a friendly on October 7, followed by Nations League games against Ukraine and Switzerland during the break. 

 

Lionel Messi might have stayed at Barcelona despite his initial attempt to depart, but Toni Kroos thinks Real Madrid would not have wanted to sign him anyway.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi had informed Barca of his wish to leave the LaLiga club last month, with the Argentina forward hoping to exercise a clause in his contract that would have allowed him to depart on a free at the end of the 2019-20 season.

However, Barca were adamant that option had expired and was not still relevant despite the campaign being extended into August by the coronavirus pandemic.

Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter were all linked with a move for one-club man Messi, who eventually confirmed he would stay in Catalonia rather than challenge Barca on legal grounds.

And, though Luis Figo famously made the switch from Barcelona to Madrid, Los Blancos midfielder Kroos does not think either party would have wanted Barca's current star to pull on the all-white kit.

"I don't think so," a laughing Kroos told Blick.

"I don't think the player would be open to coming to Real Madrid. But that's probably mutual. So I don't think that could happen."

Madrid took advantage of the turmoil at their Clasico rivals by winning the 2019-20 LaLiga title, the second time Kroos had won the league in Spain.

The World Cup winner has credited Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane for his work with the club's star-studded squad.

"It helps that he was a great player himself," Kroos added.

"He knows exactly what makes them tick and what it's like to be a Real Madrid player. He applies this knowledge superbly, and he's also incredibly good at managing this group of stars. 

"He meets every player at eye level, brings everyone on board and has everything around Real under control. And he is also very good technically. He's the best coach you could ask for."

Joachim Low felt some of his Germany side not being in rhythm of competition played a factor in their 1-1 Nations League draw against Switzerland.

Germany are still waiting for a first Nations League win after they followed a 1-1 draw with Spain on Thursday with the same result in Basle on Sunday.

Ilkay Gundogan gave Germany a 14th-minute lead but they spurned several chances to add to their advantage and were eventually punished by Silvan Widmer's second-half equaliser.

Germany are two points adrift of Spain in Group A4 and head coach Low felt a team missing several members of Bayern Munich's treble-winning side did not deserve any more than a point.

"As against Spain, we failed to score the second goal, which would have given us security," he told ZDF.

"Twice in a row we've led 1-0, and twice we're not bringing home anything. We had some good chances, but we let Switzerland come back in the second half. 

"We lost too many balls, and the draw makes sense. Some players were not in the rhythm of the competition, some players were absent.

"The Swiss had nothing to lose in the second half, they gave everything."

Midfielder Toni Kroos echoed his coach's sentiments, adding: "When there are six points to take and we only take two, yes, it's disappointing. 

"Unfortunately, it was a bit the same scenario as against Spain. We have to work to find more solutions when the opponent is playing very high.

"We need players who want the ball, even when we are under pressure."

Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona might make them less of a threat to Real Madrid, but his exit would be a blow to LaLiga, according to Los Blancos midfielder Toni Kroos.

Messi rocked Barcelona last week when informing them of his desire to leave the club he initially agreed to join as a 12-year-old.

Now 33, Messi had a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave on a free transfer at the end of the 2019-20 season, but that is reported to have expired at the end of May.

But because the coronavirus pandemic extended the season into August, Messi and his entourage believe it should still be valid.

LaLiga has sided with Barca, though that has not stopped speculation as to his next destination from running wild, with Manchester City appearing the most likely move.

Messi's father, who is also his agent, suggested on Wednesday that his son remaining at Barca would be "difficult", and Kroos – a regular opponent of the Barca icon in El Clasico – thinks it would be bad for the league if the Argentinian star left.

"Messi is a player who is interesting for all clubs in the world," Kroos said in a news conference on international duty with Germany.

"It's bad for LaLiga and especially for Barcelona. For me, as a Real Madrid player, it's of course something different.

"But even if Messi left, it wouldn't automatically mean that we at Real Madrid would win everything."

Messi has a year left on his contract at Barca, who are reportedly demanding his €700million release clause be met for their talisman to leave.

Should he depart without playing another game for them then his final match will have been the 8-2 Champions League humiliation to Bayern Munich.

 

Lionel Messi would be highly unlikely to swap Barcelona for Real Madrid and would need to show "cojones" to remain if Spain if he departs Camp Nou, says Toni Kroos.

The future of Argentina superstar Messi remains shrouded in doubt after he made the club aware of his intention to leave following Barca's humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Messi did not show up for pre-season training this week, nor did he appear for coronavirus testing on Sunday, as he believes a clause in his contract is now active making him a free agent – something Barca dispute.

A reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City is seen as the likeliest outcome should Messi seal a spectacular exit.

Kroos also sees that as a possibility, but the Blancos star cannot imagine Messi becoming a Madrid team-mate any time soon.

"I do not think he will come to Real Madrid, if I have to rule it out categorically," he said on the Einfach mal Luppen podcast with his brother Felix.

"To stay in Spain: You need cojones for that. I think hardly anyone in the football world can imagine Barcelona without Messi."

Kroos added "that it could most likely be Pep and City" for Messi, while admitting Barca losing a player of his calibre would not be a bad thing for LaLiga champions Madrid.

"If one of those players no longer plays in the rival team, one can imagine that we do not consider it as something necessarily bad," Kroos said.

"Messi away from Barcelona means that Barcelona lacks a total weapon."

Kroos is preparing for a Nations League double-header against Spain and Switzerland and revealed he is no longer told by Germany head coach Joachim Low when he has been selected for international duty, only if he is being rested.

"It's actually like this, if I don't hear anything from Jogi, I'll travel there too. Regardless of whether I'm nominated or not," he said.

Zinedine Zidane has described Toni Kroos as a "spectacular" player, and one he will single out as an honour to have coached when he retires.

Kroos joined Madrid from Bayern Munich in 2014 and has gone on to help Los Blancos to two LaLiga titles and three Champions League triumphs.

Zidane has coached Kroos since 2016 over two separate spells, and the Madrid boss has no doubt that the Germany international will go down as a midfield great.

"He will be remembered as a spectacular player, one of the best in the world in his position," Zidane told Real France, as reported by TyC.

"When I arrived, well, you can imagine, I was really happy to be his coach.

"It's true, when I retire I will be able to say that I trained Cristiano [Ronaldo], [Gareth] Bale, [Luka] Modric, [Sergio] Ramos. But I will also say I coached Toni Kroos.

"It is impressive to see him train every day. How professional [he is]. Talking about him is talking about someone extraordinary."

Kroos' main skill, according to Zidane, is his patience and composure, and a player who leads by example.

"He is so good that he could play as a 'six' or even as a '10'," Zidane added. "You put him in and he adapts. His main virtue is his serenity, he's calm.

"He's not nervous and loves reaching out to shoot from afar as much as taking a back pass. The ease with which he plays with both feet is fascinating to me. You could come to think that he's a natural left-footed player.

"Toni is a very quiet and reserved boy. But when he speaks, he speaks to anyone: coach, managers, teammates. He does not stop. I have seen many discussions in which his participation has ended up being key."

Could Paulo Dybala swap Italy for Spain?

The Juventus attacker was close to leaving Juventus for either Manchester United or Tottenham prior to the 2019-20 season, while Paris Saint-Germain were also linked.

Now, Real Madrid are reportedly targeting the 26-year-old.

 

TOP STORY – KROOS OUT, DYBALA IN?

Real Madrid are set to offer Toni Kroos or Isco as part of a deal to bring Juventus star Paulo Dybala to the Santiago Bernabeu, according to SportMediaset.

LaLiga champions Madrid are eyeing a move for Dybala, who has been in negotiations with Serie A titleholders Juve over a new contract amid reported interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

However, Juve are unwilling to part with the Argentina international – who enjoyed a fine Serie A campaign prior to Maurizio Sarri's sacking as he looks ahead to life under Andrea Pirlo.

ROUND-UP

- Kicker claims Jadon Sancho has told Borussia Dortmund he is happy to stay at the club if a blockbuster transfer to Manchester United fails to materialise. The England international has been heavily tipped to join United, with personal terms reportedly agreed.

Barcelona want to sign Manchester City star Bernardo Silva, reports The Telegraph. The LaLiga giants are eyeing a cash-plus-player deal to try to prise the Portugal international to Camp Nou.

- Premier League champions Liverpool are poised to sign Olympiacos left-back Kostas Tsimikas, according to widespread reports. Having failed to strike a deal with Norwich City for Jamal Lewis, Liverpool are close to prising Tsimikas from the Greek powerhouse. Meanwhile, The Sun says Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool are targeting a shock £35million swoop for Bournemouth midfielder David Brooks.

- The front page of Monday's edition of Marca says Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane must sell before he is able to sign players ahead of the 2020-21 season. Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez are two players unwanted in the Spanish capital as Madrid continue to be linked with the likes of PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe, Dortmund's Erling Haaland and Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga.

- AS Diario reports Villarreal are on the verge of signing Valencia pair Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin. Valencia captain Parejo and team-mate Coquelin have been told they are free to leave Mestalla.

Napoli have joined the race to sign Madrid full-back Sergio Reguilon claims Sky Sport Italia. On loan at Sevilla, Reguilon has been linked to Chelsea and Everton.

- According to Calciomercato, Inter are interested in Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele. However, salary demands may prove problematic amid talk of a swap deal involving Inter defender Milan Skriniar.

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