Real Madrid: 5 players who must shine against Deportivo Alaves

Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images) /
4 of 6
Real Madrid, Toni Kroos
Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

CM Toni Kroos

Toni Kroos has recorded two key passes in each of the last three Real Madrid Champions League games, but his best performance was this Wednesday against Inter Milan. He was absolutely brilliant. Casemiro wasn’t ready to start yet after missing matches due to COVID-19, so Kroos stepped in alongside Luka Modric.

Except unlike on Matchday 1 of La Liga at Real Sociedad, Kroos and Modric weren’t really a double pivot. Kroos dropped deep as something between a defender and midfielder, playing as a regista who dictated the play and kept everything moving forward. His passing was instrumental in the goals scored by Mariano and Rodrgyo this past week, which runs contrary, of course, to the harmful narrative that Kroos does not pass the ball progressively.

Alaves will make things as compact as possible, and that will force Kroos, who leads La Liga with 2.7 key passes per game, according to, to take the reigns in terms of pass creation. He will have help in terms of key passes and finding that killer ball in the attacking third, but Kroos will mostly be the one called upon to find creative solutions.

Expect to see Kroos, Martin Odegaard, and Casemiro working together in midfield. But Kroos will be the one who has to do most of the heavy lifting offensively for Real Madrid this weekend.