Real Madrid: Are Luka Modric, Toni Kroos too important?

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

Real Madrid have the best midfield duo in the world. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, together, are an unstoppable force capable of controlling just about any opponent. It is a rare feat to stymie both of them, as the likes of Inter Milan and FC Barcelona have fallen victim to their dominance in the 2020-2021 season.

There is no doubt that they are vital to Real’s success. Players of that caliber would be important to any team. But it seems as if Real are so reliant on Modric and Kroos that neither of them can get a moment’s rest.

Take the weekend fixture against Elche as an example. Modric and Kroos were on the bench to start the match, because Zinedine Zidane wanted to give his experienced superstars some much-needed rest before the second leg of the Champions League Round of 16 vs. Atalanta.

Instead, Zidane had to call on both men to bail the team out after an hour, as Real Madrid were down 1-0 to a side that is in the relegation battle.

Real Madrid needed Toni Kroos and Luka Modric to beat Elche

Modric and Kroos, as you’d expect, saved the day. Kroos had some nice deliveries, but it was Modric who was the main hero this time, crossing perfectly with his left foot to find Karim Benzema’s head for the opener. (And Benzema did it essentially all by himself for the second to give Los Blancos a win.)

The contrast in how this team played before and after Modric and Kroos joined the pitch is startling. They looked like they could barely hang with one of La Liga’s worst teams without their all-world midfield duo. And then when Modric and Kroos entered the match, they were in control again.

You’d think a midfield trio of Isco, Casemiro, and Fede Valverde would be more than good enough to handle Elche. Isco is a good player when he’s on his game, Fede is one of the world’s most valuable midfielders on the transfer market, and Case is world-class in his own right. Yet these three could not make a difference against Elche for an hour, with only Fede impressing Madridistas through the first 45 minutes.

Real Madrid’s chance creation suffers mightily without Kroos and Modric. They need these two men to create chances, keep the play ticking, and avoid gifting counterattacking opportunities to the opposition. Modric and Kroos’ importance transcends the players who would theoretically replace them; they cover up for so many deficiencies in Real’s atrocious final third and even in their build-up play from the back.

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As amazing as these two living legends are, it’s troubling that Los Blancos look so powerless against weak opposition when they are not around. How Real played without them on the pitch is a microcosm of the issues currently hurting the squad. Modric and Kroos should be vital to Real, but Real should not be THAT poor without them. This team is too reliant on the “old guard”, which includes the scoring hero vs. Elche in Benzema. And that emphasizes the need for a big summer. Hopefully, Modric and Kroos can get their proper rest soon enough.