3 lineups for Real Madrid to make Toni Kroos the No. 6

Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Eduardo Camavinga
Real Madrid, Eduardo Camavinga (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

2. 4-4-2 flat with Kroos, Modric, Valverde and Camavinga all starting

In the previous slide, I have mentioned that Don Carlo had used a 4-3-3 in almost every match, and not in every match. Some matches were exceptions, in which different formations were tried and tested. One such formation that was used is a 4-4-2 formation, with four central midfielders in the starting XI.

This formation was used against Espanyol in October 2021, and Real Madrid, unfortunately, lost the game 2-1. The midfield struggled against Espanyo’s disciplined setup, and eventually, Camavinga was subbed off at half-time. Well, this does not provide enough sample space to judge them as a  midfield quartet, and it is still an interesting formation.

With the Blonde duo of Modric and Kroos forming a double pivot in the midfield four and Fede Valverde and Camavinga acting as wide midfielders, there is a sense of balance in this lineup. Full-backs will have proper support from the young midfielders in both attack and defence, and it can also help the team outnumber the opponent’s midfield. This can be a proper counter-attacking setup, with Valverde and Camavinga quick enough to burst down the wings. And Camavinga’s ability to operate in half-spaces will also help the team in possession.

This formation might remind you of the 4-4-2 that was successfully used by Zidane in some of the games of the 2017/18 season. But the difference is that it was a system that was built around the pace of Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio in transition, and relied heavily on their crossing skills, with two aerial targets present in the box, in Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. This one is very different from that, though three players are common in both systems. This one is more possession-oriented and doesn’t involve a lot of wing-play or crosses.

But there are also some disadvantages with this formation. The team would have to sacrifice an attacker (mostly Marco Asensio) for the presence of another midfielder, in a game where they’re expected to be attack-minded. It is important to avoid conceding a goal, but at the same time, the team has to score two or more goals to win the game. And both of the wide midfielders aren’t really players with an eye for the goal. And to be defensively strong, the lines in a 4-4-2 must be tightly spaced, and I doubt if Real Madrid can actually execute that successfully.

It is a good choice nonetheless, but I doubt if it is the best choice. But with proper discipline, the team can definitely win big games with this combination.