Real Madrid: The 3 biggest X-Factors at Villarreal on Saturday

Real Madrid, Martin Odegaard (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Martin Odegaard (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Toni Kroos
Toni Kroos of Real Madrid (Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images) /

CM Toni Kroos

There’s another midfielder who should be highlighted as a key to victory for Real Madrid on Saturday against Unai Emery’s side. And that man is Toni Kroos, who is, once again, among the team’s – and the league’s – leaders in passing statistics.

Kroos is second in La Liga with 2.8 key passes per game, according to WhoScored.com. He is also fourth in pass completion percentage, as he is accurate on 92.6 percent of his attempts.

The German international controls games like nobody else. He remains squarely in the discussion as the best midfielder in the world, and he is such an asset for Los Blancos, especially in a big road match like this one.

Kroos and Real Madrid may not have Casemiro, though he is expected to return from COVID-19 after missing the game before the break against Valencia.

If Case is unavailable, Kroos could play in a double-pivot with Luka Modric, as Zinedine Zidane used that formation against Real Sociedad on Matchday 1. And if Casemiro does play, Kroos will start on the left, as is usual, with potentially Martin Odegaard across from him and the Brazilian in the central defensive position.

No matter what, Kroos is key. He will be going up against Villarreal’s Dani Parejo, who is another experienced and highly accurate passer. Signed from rivals Valencia for pennies alongside fellow midfield standout Francis Coquelin, who is another key player to watch, Parejo is key to Emery’s side. He is even the league’s leader in passes per game with 75.9.

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That makes Kroos central to Real’s success on Saturday at the Estadio de la Ceramica. He will need to pass perfectly, press, create chances, and lead the way. But you wouldn’t bet against Mr. Consistent to do just that in a huge match.