Toni Kroos scored a superb volley and assisted another goal as Real Madrid moved within two points of LaLiga leaders Barcelona by beating Cadiz 2-1 in their final match before the World Cup break.

Carlo Ancelotti's side suffered their first loss of the top-flight season at Rayo Vallecano on Monday, but returned to winning ways with a much-improved showing at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Eder Militao opened the scoring with a first-half header from Kroos' cross on Thursday, marking the centre-back's second goal in as many league games.

Kroos' emphatic second-half strike meant Lucas Perez's late goal proved irrelevant as Madrid closed the gap on Barca.

Alfonso Espino offered Madrid an early scare as his long-range strike clipped the top of the crossbar, before Federico Valverde fired narrowly wide at the other end.

A frenetic first half continued with tempers flaring for both sides before Militao headed Toni Kroos' left-wing cross into the bottom-right corner five minutes before half-time.

Thibaut Courtois thwarted Ruben Sobrino from a rare Cadiz chance after the interval, before Kroos powered into the bottom-left corner stylishly from the edge of the area. 

Luka Modric inexplicably missed an open goal to add a late third and was punished as Perez pounced on a spilled Courtois save, though Madrid held on for victory.

What does it mean? Los Blancos back on track

Madrid were a shadow of their usual high standards in their last two league outings and faced a three-match winless LaLiga run for the first time in two years – under Zinedine Zidane.

However, Ancelotti's side bounced back to record just their second victory in five league games against Cadiz, who have won just three of their 38 top-flight visits to Madrid (D5 L30).

With the World Cup now taking centre stage, Ancelotti will be delighted to head into the break with victory before Madrid reconvene in their seemingly two-horse race for the LaLiga title with Barca.

Kroos control

Kroos will be an integral figure for Germany in their bid to lift the Jules Rimet trophy in the Middle East and the veteran midfielder offered a timely reminder of his qualities with his second-half strike.

The 32-year-old appeared to be everywhere for Madrid, assisting Militao's header with one of his game-high four chances created, as well as regaining possession eight times – another game-leading figure.

Gonzalez struggles again

Cadiz coach Sergio Gonzalez must be pondering what he must do to taste victory against Madrid.

He has gone 11 games without defeating Los Blancos in LaLiga (D2 L9), more than against any other team in the competition.

What's next?

Madrid are not in action until visiting Real Valladolid on December 31 after the World Cup in Qatar, while Cadiz travel to Real Union Club on Sunday in the Copa del Rey first round.

Toni Kroos is "calm" about his future and plans to hold contract talks with Real Madrid next year.

The former Germany midfielder's current deal expires at the end of the season and it has been reported he is considering his options.

Kroos has experienced a glorious eight years with Los Blancos following his move from Bayern Munich, winning the Champions League four times, claiming three LaLiga titles and lifting the FIFA Club World Cup on four occasions.

The 32-year-old plans to end his career with Madrid and is happy to wait until 2023 to begin contract negotiations.

He said on the eve of Wednesday's Champions League game against Celtic: "I'm very well physically, I'm feeling in good shape and things are going well on the pitch.

"I'm happy and very calm. Right now I'm very relaxed, I see things printed in the press and I don't know what is going to happen myself. 

"During the break [for the World Cup] I'm going to think about what could happen and then I'll decide. I'm going nowhere, I'm going to retire here, the only thing I don't know is when that will be. 

"It's funny that a lot of people know what I think when I don't even know. There's nothing new, the club and I are very calm."

He added: "We've arranged a talk next year, we're calm, the relationship with the club is very special. I've been here for eight years and I've said before I want to end my career here. We'll talk in January, February, March... Everything will be fine, that's for sure."

Kroos was sent off for the first time in his club career in the closing stages of Sunday's 1-1 LaLiga draw with Girona, but will face Celtic when Madrid attempt to win Group F at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Toni Kroos has enjoyed one of the most garlanded careers in world football, but on Sunday he finally collected something rather less treasured than his many medals: a red card.

In his 634th competitive top-flight game at club level, Kroos was dismissed for the first time as Real Madrid were held 1-1 by Girona at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Germany international had already been booked when he cynically fouled Aleix Garcia as Girona looked to break at speed in stoppage time.

That meant the 32-year-old had to go, with referee Mario Melero Lopez ordering him off.

Kroos played at the highest level in Germany for Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen, where he had an 18-month loan spell early in his career.

After making his Bundesliga debut in 2007 and gradually developing into a Bayern star performer, Kroos was signed up by Madrid in July 2014, days after helping his national team win the World Cup.

He has won the Champions League five times, landed three Bundesliga titles and three LaLiga crowns, and added five Club World Cup wins.

That is just scratching the surface, with Kroos scoring 59 goals and adding 130 assists while prompting skilfully from midfield.

The 634-game total consists of all competitions, including Kroos playing 253 times in LaLiga, 173 games in the Bundesliga, and 132 matches in the Champions League.

Kroos was not entirely a stranger to referees over that time, but they had always held off showing him red. He had totted up 84 bookings before Lopez decided the moment had arrived for an early bath.

Toni Kroos was sent off in a 1-1 draw against lowly Girona as Real Madrid returned to the top of the table but dropped LaLiga points for only the second time this season.

Vinicius Junior's ninth goal of the season with just over 20 minutes of normal time remaining put Los Blancos in front at the Santiago Bernabeu.

That was not enough to secure the victory, though, as Marco Asensio was penalised for handball following a VAR check and Cristhian Stuani converted from the spot in the 80th minute.

Rodrygo had a late goal disallowed and Kroos was sent off for a second bookable offence as Los Blancos had to settle for a result that inched them a point above Barcelona at the summit, while Girona are out of the relegation zone.

Luka Modric shot wide in the second minute on his return from injury before Valentin Castellanos fired an early warning shot at the other end, drilling narrowly off target.

Rodrygo let fly with a rasping right-foot drive that was superbly tipped wide by Paulo Gazzaniga, but Girona continued to look dangerous and a header from captain Valery Fernandez flashed just past the left post.

A strike from Madrid forward Rodrygo rattled the right post and Yangel Herrera's left-foot effort for Girona crashed against the crossbar after Fernandez outmuscled Dani Carvajal.

There was a flashpoint early in the second half when David Lopez was perhaps fortune to only be shown a yellow card for a clash with Vinicius, who went down claiming the Girona defender headbutted him.

It was Vinicius who made the breakthrough in the 70th minute, Federico Valverde spinning away from a defender and giving the forward a tap-in from inside the six-yard box.

Gazzaniga brilliantly palmed Asensio's powerful strike against the bar soon after that opening goal, before the Madrid winger was adjudged to have handled in the box following a VAR check.

Stuani sent Thibaut Courtois the wrong way with a superb spot-kick, and there was more drama when Rodrygo found the back of the net, but the goal was ruled out as Gazzaniga had a hand on the ball when the striker poked it past him.

Kroos was then dismissed for a second bookable offence after a cynical stoppage-time foul as Madrid slipped up.

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti believes Toni Kroos will extend his stay at the club beyond his current contract.

Kroos has been a core part of Los Blancos' success in the past eight years, lifting the LaLiga title on three occasions and clinching victory in the Champions League four times – including last season.

Now 32, and with fellow midfielder Luka Modric also in his twilight years, Madrid have looked to the future with the signings of Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga, but Kroos remains crucial for Ancelotti's side.

The Germany international has started seven of Madrid's 10 LaLiga matches this season and, while his current deal is set to expire at the end of the campaign, Ancelotti expects him to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"I've talked to him, he's very calm. He's going to think about it after the World Cup, in January or February. I think he's going to continue," he said in Friday's press conference ahead of the clash against Sevilla.

 

"His level is better than last year, he had physical problems at the beginning and then he did very well. He's at a very high level."

Kroos is set to represent Germany at the World Cup in Qatar, which begins next month, where Ancelotti expects to see matches played with a higher level of intensity compared to the usual post-season tournament.

"I think this part of the season helps, you can see a World Cup with much more intensity, they will reach the top," he added.

"In the previous ones they arrive exhausted to play the World Cup. Now they will arrive with a lot of energy."

Toni Kroos has hailed his Real Madrid team-mate Federico Valverde as one of the "top three" players in the world.

Valverde continued his sensational start to the season on Sunday by scoring Los Blancos' second goal in their 3-1 Clasico triumph over Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.

After failing to find the back of the net in 31 LaLiga games last season, Valverde has now scored four in nine appearances this term.

The Uruguay international's fine strike was the first Madrid have scored at home against Barca from outside the area since Raul did so during the 1998-99 season.

Kroos is in no doubt about Valverde's standing in world football, with the former Germany international taking to social media to heap praise on his team-mate.

Posting on Twitter, Kroos said: "Fede Valverde top 3 in the world right now."

Karim Benzema had earlier given Los Blancos the lead against Barcelona, before Valverde's crisp strike from 20 yards doubled their advantage.

Ferran Torres pulled one back for Barca with seven minutes remaining, but Rodrygo restored the hosts' two-goal advantage in stoppage time from the penalty spot after he had been fouled by Eric Garcia.

The win saw Madrid move three points clear of their great rivals at the summit of LaLiga.

Real Madrid had a drawn-out pursuit of Kylian Mbappe earlier this year but ultimately missed out on the France forward.

Mbappe opted to sign a lucrative contract extension with Paris Saint-Germain in May, tying him to the Parisians until 2025.

But earlier this week, Fabrizio Romano reported the situation between PSG and Mbappe had got tense, with the player keen to depart.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID MOVE ON FROM MBAPPE AMID TRANSFER TWIST

Marca claims that Real Madrid are no longer have interest in signing Mbappe amid reports that he is unsettled at PSG and wants to leave.

The report claims that Los Blancos are observing the situation from afar with no desire to participate in the latest drama.

Romano also said PSG had no intention of selling Mbappe in January amid the speculation he wanted out. PSG director Luis Campos denied the report on Tuesday.

ROUND-UP

Bayern Munich will turn to Borussia Monchengladbach forward Marcus Thuram should they fail to land Tottenham's Harry Kane , reports TZ. Thuram's Gladbach deal ends at the end of this season.

– Sky Sport's Florian Plettenberg reports that Toni Kroos and Real Madrid are set to commence talks on a new deal running until 2024, with his currently deal expiring at season's end.

Barcelona will try to lure Chelsea pair N'Golo Kante and Jorginho to Camp Nou as free agents at the end of this season, claims the Evening Standard. The Blues are currently trying to convince both to re-sign.

– 90min claims Manchester City have told Bayern Munich and Inter that defender Nathan Ake is not for sale in January, following speculation about their interest.

West Ham have joined Roma and Manchester United in pursuing a deal for Sassuolo midfielder Davide Frattesi, according to Calciomercato.

– Football Insider reports Brentford have commenced discussions with England international striker Ivan Toney on a new deal, with Tottenham linked to him.

Toni Kroos has hailed the performance of the Shakhtar Donetsk squad following their 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in the Champions League.

The Ukrainian side came agonisingly close to a remarkable victory against the European champions but Antonio Rudiger's last-gasp header ensured honours would be even, clinching Madrid's spot in the knockout stages.

Shakhtar's valiant display came on the back of more difficult days for Ukraine, with Russia resuming missile strikes across the country, including upon the capital Kyiv, in a further escalation of the conflict.

Kroos was left impressed by the spirit of Shakhtar's squad, praising them for their efforts this season as they play out their campaign in their adopted home of Warsaw.

"In general, the last couple of months, it's been a very difficult situation to be playing football at this time," he told CBS Sports.

"For that, hats off to them. How they play, how they fight, how they are able to concentrate on the less important thing called football, a lot of respect for that.

"We're here to play a Champions League game but, knowing what happened, it affects everybody, of course more the Ukrainian players.

"But I think it's a good thing for them to go out here, forget a bit the things that happened, to just play football, to play together, to enjoy it and I think that is what they did and they had a great game today."

Madrid's passive display came ahead of El Clasico against Barcelona on Sunday, with Carlo Ancelotti resting key players, but Lucas Vazquez denied the side were focusing on that fixture.

"Not at all. We knew the importance of this match, which was an important day for the qualification to the round of 16. We're going to make this point in the next game," he told Movistar.

Carlo Ancelotti acknowledges Karim Benzema is "a bit tired" following his return from injury, but has refused to rule out using the striker when Real Madrid face Getafe on Saturday.

Benzema missed three weeks after sustaining a thigh injury in the Champions League win over Celtic last month, returning to Los Blancos' side for last week's 1-1 draw with Osasuna.

The France striker crashed a late penalty against the crossbar in that match as Madrid dropped points for the first time this season in LaLiga, and also failed to impress in Wednesday's 2-1 Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Benzema failed to score despite recording eight shots totalling 0.93 expected goals (xG) in that contest, and Spanish media reports had suggested he was doubtful for the trip to Getafe.

However, Ancelotti insists Benzema has not been ruled out of Saturday's game, saying: "Benzema has played two full games after being out for a month, he's a bit tired. 

"He's not ruled out. If he's fine tomorrow, he can play. I see the usual Karim, we don't have to worry. 

"It may be that he rests in Getafe, we'll see, we don't want to force anything."

Ancelotti revealed only two players had asked him for a rest during his long coaching career, adding: "The players are not so honest when they are tired. 

"I prefer that they tell me that they are loaded and avoid injuries, but it has only happened to me twice in 30 years: Pepe and [Clarence] Seedorf." 

If Benzema does feature on Saturday, he will look to extend a fine run of form on the road. The Ballon d'Or favourite has scored nine away goals in LaLiga in 2022, more than any other player, finding the net in six of his last nine away appearances.

Ancelotti offered a positive update on the fitness of Thibaut Courtois, who has missed Madrid's last two games due to a hernia issue, confirming he should be available for next week's Clasico meeting with Barcelona.

"Courtois is improving from his inflammation, it's getting better," he said. "We'll see if he gets to Warsaw [to face Shakhtar on Tuesday], but he'll be safe in the Clasico."

Ancelotti was also asked about the future of midfielder Toni Kroos, who is yet to sign an extension to his Madrid contract, which expires next year.

The Italian coach is relaxed about the situation, though, adding: "Kroos never gets angry, he never feels the pressure. Sometimes I ask him if he's nervous, and he always says no. 

"The renewal is in his hands, if he wants to renew, Real Madrid will be very happy."

Toni Kroos insists Real Madrid want to secure qualification for the Champions League knockout stages "as soon as possible" following victory over Shakhtar Donetsk.

The holders maintained their 100 per cent start in Group F with first-half goals from Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior sealing a 2-1 win at Santiago Bernabeu.

Despite converting just two of their 36 shots on goal, Madrid moved five points clear at the group summit after winning their opening three games in the competition for the first time since the 2014-15 campaign.

Los Blancos could book their place in the last 16 with victory over Shakhtar in the return fixture in Warsaw next week, which would be the ideal scenario for Kroos.

"The idea is to finish the group as soon as possible," the midfielder told Movistar+. "We have nine points out of nine, we have played three very good games, and we want another victory in Warsaw. 

"There are days when the ball does not want to enter, it has been a game to win 7-1 or something. But in the end, it is three points, and it has been a deserved victory.

"In the end, it's hard to believe we won only 2-1, but there are days like that. The ball will go in over the next few games."

Head coach Carlo Ancelotti warned his players against complacency after they were pegged back against the run of play by Oleksandr Zubkov's spectacular strike.

But the Italian was thrilled at seeing his side creating so many chances; Madrid only registering more shots on goal in a single Champions League match against Roma in March 2016.

"[I am] satisfied because I think we played very well; the front three combined very well in front, pressing more," Ancelotti added. "We have had many opportunities, but we have not succeeded. The important thing was to have opportunities.

"We have lowered the intensity [at 2-0 up]; we thought we were comfortable. I gave a call for attention at half-time because the game was not over.

"It's pretty normal that it can happen. We were playing very well, it seemed easy, but these were the dangerous matches. You get ahead of yourself. 

"I think it's important to leave this group behind next week, so we can focus on the league."

Luka Modric believes Real Madrid are well-equipped to thrive in the aftermath of Casemiro's move to Manchester United, as he praised Los Blancos' midfield options.

Casemiro left Madrid to join United in a £60million (€70m) move last month, but his departure has not stopped Carlo Ancelotti's men from making a strong start to the new season.

Ahead of Sunday's home clash with Mallorca, Madrid have won all four of their games in LaLiga and began their Champions League defence with a 3-0 thrashing of Celtic on Tuesday.

Madrid are the only team with a 100 per cent record in the top five European leagues this season, and are now bidding to win their opening five league matches for just the second time in the 21st century, having also done so in 2009-10.

The likes of Aurelien Tchouameni, Eduardo Camavinga and Federico Valverde have stepped up in Casemiro's absence. 

Of Madrid's midfielders, new signing Tchouameni leads the way for minutes played in LaLiga this season (328), followed by Valverde (265), Modric (260) and Camavinga (222). All four have made more starts than the two managed by Toni Kroos, who has played 173 minutes.

Modric believes the strength of Madrid's options means Casemiro will not be missed, telling the club's website: "We've started really well this year and we have a strong team. 

"In midfield, we lost an important player in Casemiro, but we've got a lot of other good players to replace him and do a good job. 

"Tchouameni has adapted really well. This is Camavinga's second year and he had a great first year.

"Kroos has been here for a long time. Valverde is also doing really well in any position. [Dani] Ceballos is helping the team a lot, so we're well-equipped in this position."

Meanwhile, Eden Hazard capped Madrid's trip to Celtic by finishing off a 33-pass move for their third goal. Since Opta data began in 2003-04, that is the longest uninterrupted build-up to any of Madrid's 434 goals in the competition.

But speaking on Saturday, Ancelotti insisted the Belgium forward's strike was not representative of a change in Madrid's style of play.

"Madrid deserves the credit it gets but scoring a goal from a 33-pass play doesn't mean that's our whole identity," the Madrid boss said.

"The game was almost over and we wanted to finish it out with a long spell of possession, but the stats say it's easier to score in under 10 passes. The numbers show very few goals come from over 10 passes.

"You could say that playing a possession-based game has been fashionable and has seen success in recent years, but football is changing and it's more direct.

"Possession football is less popular than it has been recently in every country."

Premier League champions Manchester City may be willing to do more business in January.

Pep Guardiola's side added Erling Haaland, Kalvin Phillips, Sergio Gomez and Manuel Akanji in the last transfer window.

But City may be looking to further strengthen their squad amid a chaotic schedule in 2022-23.

TOP STORY – CITY CONSIDERING KROOS MOVE IN JANUARY

Manchester City are plotting a January move for Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos, according to El Nacional.

The 32-year-old is out of contract at the end of this season and he has rejected Madrid's offer of an extension.

As a result, Los Blancos may consider selling Kroos in January and Pep Guardiola is a long-time admirer.

ROUND-UP

Galatasaray are set to clinch a loan deal to sign Paris Saint-Germain forward Mauro Icardi, reports Fabrizio Romano. The final details of the move are being discussed, with Icardi set to undergo a medical in Turkey soon. The Turkish transfer window closes on Thursday.

– After being heavily pursued prior to the transfer window closing, Aston Villa's Brazilian midfielder Douglas Luiz is planning to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of this season, according to UOL.

– The Telegraph reports that Wolves will consider signing ex-Newcastle United forward Andy Carroll should their move for Diego Costa collapse. Carroll is a free agent after leaving West Bromwich Albion.

– Southampton's Nathan Redmond will fly to Turkey to complete a move to Besiktas on a one-year deal, claims Fabrizio Romano.

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos anticipates plans for a European Super League will be revived, as he refuted claims of the Premier League's superiority.

Madrid president Florentino Perez has led calls for Europe's elite clubs to secede from UEFA competitions and was the driving force behind last year's proposed breakaway competition. 

While most of the Super League's slated participants withdrew following public and political pressure in April 2021, Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have remained committed to the project.

In June, Perez branded UEFA's control over the continental game a "monopoly" and declared the Super League was "still alive", and Kroos supports the president's plans. 

Speaking on the podcast OMR, Kroos said: "Never contradict your own president!"

"It is obvious that the idea existed and still exists. It should have been in operation for a long time, I think it will take a while to carry it out and I will probably not see it as an active player.

"My opinion on that is that I still believe it will come, but I can't say when."

Kroos, who has won four Champions League titles since leaving Bayern Munich for Madrid in 2014, also professed his desire to stay with Los Blancos.

"I've been at Real Madrid for eight years and there was closeness from day one," he said of his relationship with Madrid president Perez.

"I know that in these eight years he hasn't thought for a second about selling me. At that time, I came for 'only' €25million, surely I could have been sold later for more money.

"I have an excellent relationship with the club, I've grown very fond of it. The president, the team, the fans... so I won't leave."

It has been suggested the Premier League has developed into a quasi-Super League, with English top-flight clubs spending an estimated £2billion on transfers during the recent window.

But Kroos, who helped Madrid beat Liverpool to claim their 14th European crown in May, says English clubs' shortcomings on the continental front prove that is not the case.

"The Premier League has not won an international title this year," Kroos added. "Television money has been significantly higher in England for years and yet it hasn't resulted in English teams winning everything. 

"Thank god not all players look only at salary, but also at winning."

Madrid begin their Champions League title defence when they face Celtic on Tuesday.

Carlo Ancelotti has no concerns around the contract situations of several of his veteran Real Madrid stars, with Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos all now into the final 12 months of their existing deals.

The transfer window closed on Thursday, leaving Madrid coach Ancelotti with a squad to work with at least until January.

But there remains work to do in the coming months if this hugely successful group is to stay together beyond the end of the 2022-23 campaign.

Madrid have a host of players out of contract at the end of the season; some, like Marco Asensio, seem certain to leave, but Benzema, Modric, Kroos and Nacho are all key men.

Benzema is reportedly expected to sign a one-year extension, however, while Modric has done so in each of the past two years.

And Ancelotti sees this approach as sensible, remaining confident these top performers will stay at the Santiago Bernabeu as long as they are wanted.

"There are some players who are in the final year of their contract with the club, but that's not an issue," he said.

Ancelotti added: "You look at Modric, Kroos, Karim, Nacho, these are players who want to stay here until they finish their careers, sometimes signing one-year contracts.

"I don't think having a player in the final year of his contract is an issue.

"There are a lot of clubs who have players in their final year of contract, because you've got to look at the economy of a club and how clubs are run.

"That's why now we're seeing more players reach their final year of contract.

"Look at our veteran players and what we do with them, bringing in their contracts on a yearly basis."

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has revealed his surprise at the departure of former team-mate Casemiro to Manchester United.

The Brazil international ended his nine-year stay at the Santiago Bernabeu when he swapped LaLiga for the Premier League earlier this month for a reported fee of £60million (€70m).

Casemiro, who made his United debut as a substitute during Saturday's 1-0 win at Southampton, enjoyed a trophy-laden stint alongside Kroos in the heart of Los Blancos' midfield.

Together, they won four Champions League crowns and two league titles, and the 30-year-old's decision to leave the Spanish capital was one that came out of the blue, according to Kroos.

 

Speaking on his podcast Einfach mal Luppen, Kroos said: "The decision surprised me to do that. He has made the decision for himself to do something new again.

"He's 30 and knows for sure that he won't need to do that in two or three years. There were more and more reports, it somehow got hotter.

"In the beginning, I would not have expected it at all, I thought it was just a rumour at first. But there are one or two newspapers here that are a bit better informed.

"As more and more people reported and talked about details, I was awake at three or four o'clock at night when I was sick. Then I just wrote to him [asking] if he would really leave me alone."

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