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Kroos talks Vinicius, Bellingham, Guardiola, Haaland, renewal ahead of Real Madrid vs Man City

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

The UEFA Champions League semifinals are finally upon us, and one could not have asked for a better clash to get things started. Real Madrid and Manchester City lock horns on Tuesday night in a high-voltage clash at the Santiago Bernabeu and it is clear that the whole world will have eyes on it.

Both teams head into the game in top form. Los Blancos are coming off a win in the Copa del Rey final over Osasuna while Pep Guardiola’s side downed Leeds United with an identical 2-1 scoreline.

Toni Kroos spoke to the media ahead of his team’s semifinal clash in the traditional pre-match press conference. He first outlined the team’s strategy ahead of the clash without diving too deep into the particulars.

“We have to play, score goals, be well in defense against a team that usually scores three or four goals per game. We’ve played a lot like that and I trust our experience.”

Several pundits have gone on to pick the English side to go through over the two legs, with Wayne Rooney being the latest on the list. Quizzed about the topic of who was the favourite, the German midfielder said,

“It was almost the same a year ago. Hardly anyone expected us to win the Champions League and the semifinals, and we did. What can I say? It doesn’t affect us or motivate us, because we can’t be anymore.”

Carlo Ancelotti has given the World Cup winner a slightly different role this season. Playing deeper in the midfield as a pivot, he now has to cover less ground whilst making the same impact on the field. Speaking about his changed role, Kroos highlighted,

“I feel very comfortable, just like a number 8.”

Pep Guardiola is one of football’s most decorated managers in the history of the sport but does not have the best of records against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League. Kroos had only respect for the Spanish tactician and highlighted what made him special.

“His teams always play their football. You can always see that it’s a Pep team. Haaland has 51 goals, so that combination doesn’t work badly.”

Vinicius Jr is slowly evolving into the heart and soul of the Merengues’ setup and it is clear that he will be the one leading from the front for at least the next decade. The German praised his teammate and called him a ‘decisive’ player.

“Vini is very young, these are situations that he has not lived a thousand times. It is not normal that at the age of 22 he is so decisive. It must be very difficult to play against him. He doesn’t stop. He has to learn, don’t worry, he’s incredible.”

Kroos then added a point on the repeated fouls targeted at Vini Jr and the need for more stringent rules and protection in the youngster’s case.

“They provoke Vini and the referees sometimes don’t help. He deserves more protection, there is a climate that does not help. He is the type of player we all want to see, except for the rivals. He has to live with this.”

The topic of discussion then jumped to Real Madrid’s dream run in the Champions League last season where they pulled off back-to-back comebacks en route to the silverware. Unsurprisingly, the German was short for words describing it.

“I don’t know what it looks like. We are very motivated. I hope the motivation is the same, but it really can’t be more.”

A lot has been said about Kroos’ renewal this season. After long deliberation, the midfielder has decided to renew his contract at the club last season but refused to give any further updates on the situation.

“I’m just talking about my case. I’ve already said that it’s on the right track, but it’s not my business to make it official, it’s the club’s business.”

The veteran midfielder was also asked about Real Madrid’s links to Jude Bellingham, but he sidestepped the question, as he said:

“About Bellingham, the truth is that I haven’t watched much of their games because we haven’t faced them. I imagine I would get to see him more often if he comes.”

Speaking about the mentality in the dressing room, Kroos maintained that there was no shortage of belief in the team. However, he also highlighted the difficulty of the game and the hectic schedule.

“We are fine. I never look for excuses. We won’t lack strength tomorrow. It’s a Champions League semifinal. Of course, it can be improved because it is not ideal to play these two games so often. No one has helped us.”

“This has been the issue of calendars for a long time. It is not current. I’ve been saying for years that it’s too much. Nobody wants to take away competitions because it’s less money. Nobody asks us the players.”

Finally, the legend spoke about the influence of money in the world of football and how it could revolutionise the is the game was played and seen.

“To be honest, a lot of money moves football. I have nothing against it, it depends on what you do with that money. They can create great things, with stadiums, coaches, academies… There are many examples. There are others who treat them as toys. Not that.”

Source: Real Madrid Twitter

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid eye €3.5 million-rated relegated Premier League striker to reinforce attack

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Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Following a difficult season with troubles in La Liga and the Champions League preventing Real Madrid from retaining their crowns, Los Blancos move towards a transformative summer, full of innovations.

Real Madrid managed to clear plenty of unwanted figures at the club, with a huge relief on the wage bill. However, with an array of exits, the squad has contracted and thus replacements are being inquired.

Apart from the high-profile departure of Karim Benzema, fringe players have also bid their farewell.

Among those names is Mariano Diaz, who was Madrid’s backup striker prior to his withdrawal. Several names have been put on the table to fill his absence as the club largely aim to address their lack of depth.

According to Arancha Rodriguez (via RM4Arab), Leeds United striker Rodrigo Moreno is one of the names gaining consensus in the Madrid hierarchy. Moreover, Joselu has also been considered as a viable alternative.

The two favourites to replace Mariano have proven to be important figures for their clubs as both strikers maintain a starting role.

Playing for Espanyol, Joselu ended the La Liga campaign as the third top scorer, only behind Benzema and Lewandowski. Considering Espanyol’s relegation, such a feat looks even more impressive. The Spaniard secured 19 goals in all competitions.

On the other hand, Rodrigo Moreno recorded 16 goals last season across all competitions. Similar to Joselu’s case, the Spanish international also suffered relegation with Leeds, in spite of his good numbers.

With both players offering adequate output in struggling sides, Real Madrid’s interest is practical. Moreover, considering both Espanyol and Leeds were relegated, their asking price will undeniably lower, which enables the Merengues to sign one of the two targets at a more convenient rate.

It is claimed that Rodrigo has a release clause worth €3.5 million which Los Blancos would have to trigger to sign him from Leeds United.

It now remains to be seen whether Carlo Ancelotti & co. go after the former Valencia man or move for Joselu instead.

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