Real Madrid: 5 stats highlighting the brilliance of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos so far

Real Madrid, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images) /

Toni Kroos and Luka Modric have ruled the Real Madrid midfield for years, and they’ve been as great as ever in 2020-2021.

After a rough start to the season, Real Madrid are starting to find their best form after reaching a crisis point with their second loss to Shakhtar Donetsk. Since then, Real have won all four of their last matches, and the “old guard” have played a crucial role in the resurgence.

But even when Los Blancos weren’t at their best, the midfield duo of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric were a real highlight for the team. Modric has probably been Real’s best player this season, while Kroos can also lay claim to being one of Europe’s top midfielders in 2020-2021.

Here are five statistics that highlight just how great these two players have been so far. All stats are courtesy of

Passes into the final third

Toni Kroos is one of La Liga’s leaders in passes into the final third, and he’s also eighth overall in passes into the final third among Europe’s top five leagues. Sergio Ramos, Frenkie de Jong, Dani Parejo, and Lionel Messi are the four other La Liga players in the top 20.

Progressive passes

La Liga has the fewest goals per game of any of Europe’s top five leagues, and it’s not a stretch to say that it’s the most difficult league for attacking players, given the tactical proficiency of even the lower-level sides. So naturally, progressing the ball and generating incisive attacking play are at a premium.

There are only three La Liga players in the top 20 of progressive passers, and Luka Modric is among them in 12th place with 82 progressive passes. Among La Liga players, only Lionel Messi, who is in first, is higher than Modric.

Chances created from set pieces

Toni Kroos is a fabulous corner kick taker and indirect free-kick taker, with his precise and looping deliveries. In fact, there are only two players in Europe’s top five leagues who have more shot-creating actions from set pieces than Kroos’ 17, Teji Savanier and Milan’s illustrious Hakan Calhanoglu. Yet despite having 37 shot-creating actions in total in 2020-2021, Kroos has only one goal-creating action, which is another subtle reminder of Real’s finishing issues.

Luka Modric’s importance to Real Madrid

There are several players who are crucial to Real’s success, and Luka Modric is absolutely on that shortlist. Due to the team’s playing style, Barcelona players hold all the top three spots in La Liga in times targeted by a teammate’s passes. But Modric is fourth. And he is sixth overall in the league in successful dribbles completed to boot. Modric’s teammates look for him to get them out of tight spaces when building up or keeping possession alive in the final third, and the Croatian almost always delivers.

In a (Champions) League of their own

Last season, no player had more key passes in the Champions League group stage than Toni Kroos, and the German achieved the feat again with 17 passes this season, which tied him for first with Lionel Messi. And Messi got to play two games against Ferencvaros and Dynamo Kyiv, as well as one game against a Cristiano Ronaldo-less Juventus side that looked totally dysfunctional. Kroos had no easy opponents.

Kroos was second overall behind Miralem Pjanic in completed passes, with Luka Modric also in the top 10 in ninth place. The German was ninth in progressive distance passed and first among all midfield players.

Kroos and Modric were second and third in passes into the final third with 62 and 51, respectively, as only Pjanic bested them both in this category. They were third and sixth in the total number of progressive passes, with Modric finishing 10th in passes into the penalty area.

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Real Madrid may have struggled in the Champions League group stages, but Modric and Kroos were near the top of the list among passers. So they should get plenty of credit for Real’s ability to come out of a tough group and into the Round of 16.