2. Kroos is not a DM
Carlo Ancelotti has deployed Toni Kroos as a CDM quite a few times this season without any success. Even though Casemiro is not having the best of seasons, Real Madrid has not been able to find a viable alternative to the Brazilian. His absence was palpable against Manchester City. The midfield was run over by KDB and co. In the first ten minutes, Real Madrid’s defense was in tatters. This is where Casemiro comes into play in the second leg.
Without Case, Carlo has used Kroos as the pivot. However, he is just not adept at playing the role. Kroos has never been a player who can run around and make tactical fouls and tackle players. He is the rudder of the Real Madrid ship. The sight of seeing him chase shadows and being heckled is not pretty. Quite often one can predict Real Madrid’s control over the game by looking at how Toni Kroos is playing. If he is able to make those short passes and switch the ball effortlessly then it is a sign Real Madrid is in cruise control.
Against City, this was hardly the case. Neither Kroos nor Camavinga does the dirty work that Casemiro does on the field. His presence in the second leg is extremely crucial. It will do two things. First, he’ll be able to stop City’s attackers to make those runs into the Real Madrid box nonchalantly. He may not be a great player with the ball at his feet but he surely tracks players’ runs pretty well. Militao and Alaba/Nacho were constantly pressurized during the game. Casemiro will be a great help in averting City’s dangerous attacks.
Casemiro’s presence will allow Carlo to deploy Fede Valverde as the right-sided player, a position he played against Chelsea. Carlo tried to take Pep by surprise by putting Rodrygo as a right-winger. However. without any control in the midfield, his threat was neutralized. Therefore it would be prudent to have Fede Valverde as a two-way presence on the right flank. He will also tuck into the midfield from time to time in order to contain KDB and co.