Carlo Ancelotti was full of praise for midfielder Toni Kroos after his influential display in Real Madrid's 3-0 Champions League win over Sheriff on Wednesday.

Kroos doubled Los Blancos' advantage before the interval after David Alaba had opened the scoring, while Karim Benzema added a third in the second half.

The routine win helped the LaLiga giants progress to the last 16 of the competition for the 19th season a row – the only team to do so since the round was introduced in the 2003-04 season.

Kroos has now been involved in four goals in his last three games in all competitions for Madrid (two goals, two assists) – as many as he had in his previous 13 games – and Ancelotti was delighted with his contribution.

"If Kroos is well the coach is calmer," the Italian told a media conference. "He handles the ball like nobody else. 

"That combination with Casemiro and Modric is spectacular. He is also scoring goals and he is doing very well."

The match was played on the same day Benzema was handed a one-year suspended prison sentence and fined €75,000 after being found guilty of complicity in the attempted blackmail of Mathieu Valbuena.

The France striker was one of five people standing trial over the attempt to extort former international team-mate Valbuena in a case dating back to June 2015.

It did not seem to distract the 33-year-old, who was in typically clinical form, with Ancelotti insistent the forward is focused only on what happens on the pitch.

"It is calm, it has been a topic for a long time," he added. "He is focused on Madrid and I see that he is well."

Alaba's deflected free-kick ended a run of 50 Champions League games without a goal for the Austrian since he scored for Bayern Munich against Arsenal in November 2015.

He was replaced in the 64th minute by Nacho after suffering an injury, yet Ancelotti is hopeful he will be fit for Sunday's LaLiga clash with Sevilla.

"It's a little knee sprain," he said. "It doesn't seem worrisome because he doesn't have much pain. We hope he plays on Sunday."

Madrid need just a point against Inter in a fortnight to ensure they progress to the knockout stages as Group D winners.

Karim Benzema scored on the same day he was handed a one-year suspended prison sentence as Real Madrid swept aside Sheriff 3-0 to book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

France forward Benzema was also fined €75,000 after being found guilty of complicity in the attempted blackmail of former international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

It did not prove to be a distraction for Carlo Ancelotti's men, however, as they brushed aside their less illustrious opponents with the minimum of fuss – at odds with their shock home defeat in the reverse fixture.

David Alaba and Toni Kroos put Madrid two goals ahead at the break, and Benzema added a third before the hour mark to seal his side's place in the knockout stages with a game to spare in Group D.

Benzema saw an early goal ruled out for offside after Georgios Athanasiadis had parried Kroos' shot, and the Sheriff goalkeeper got down well to Rodrygo's strike before the midway point of the first half.

Madrid's dominance was rewarded in the 30th minute, though, when Alaba's free-kick from 20 yards was deflected past Athanasiadis for the Austria international's first Champions League goal for the club.

Kroos then doubled Madrid's advantage in first-half stoppage time, stroking in a sublime effort from 20 yards via the underside of the crossbar.

Benzema scored his fifth goal of this season's competition in the 55th minute with a cool strike into Athanasiadis' bottom-right corner from just outside the penalty area.

Sebastien Thill's cross crashed back off Thibaut Courtois' post as Sheriff rallied in the closing stages, yet Madrid held firm to ensure there was no blot on their copybook this time.

 

Carlo Ancelotti hailed his Real Madrid midfield as the best in the world after Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro turned on the style in a 4-1 win at Granada.

Kroos grabbed his first two assists of an injury-blighted season, while Modric and Casemiro laid on a goal apiece in an impressive rout on Sunday, as Madrid beat Granada for a 13th successive time in LaLiga.

The last time Granada scored a home win over Madrid was in February 2013, when they won 1-0 thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo own goal, his only such blunder in 292 appearances in the Spanish top flight.

There was no danger of a repeat as Madrid grabbed this game by the scruff of the neck and were 3-1 up and chasing more goals by the time their hosts had Monchu sent off for a wild challenge on Vinicius Junior.

Marco Asensio, Nacho, Vinicius and Ferland Mendy got the goals, but Madrid's midfield three were outstanding, as Ancelotti admiringly acknowledged after the game.

With Real Sociedad only able to draw against Valencia in the evening game, it meant Madrid finished the weekend on top of the table by one point.

"What can you say," Madrid head coach Ancelotti told reporters. "They're playing at a very high level and are still the best midfielders in the world for me. They're doing things that I don't even ask from them, they do it naturally, and it's a big advantage for this club.

"They are the past, present and the future. If we're talking about the near future, absolutely. If we're looking in 10 years' time, then perhaps not. But we're in good shape for the future because [Eduardo] Camavinga, [Federico] Valverde and [Antonio] Blanco are ready too.

"They're used to playing together and they have qualities which are hard to explain. The way they switch positions during the game, sometimes Modric drops deep to play through the press and sometimes it's Kroos, Casemiro moves forward."

Kroos created a game-high four chances and finished the game with a passing accuracy of 97.4 per cent.

Madrid could have had more goals, but Granada goalkeeper Luis Maximiano made five saves. It was the fourth time this season the young Portuguese has made five saves or more in a LaLiga game, and only Espanyol's Diego Lopez has done so on more occasions (seven).

Ancelotti included Nacho at centre-back out of a wish to give Eder Militao a rest. He substituted the lively Vinicius late on, too, but stressed that was not due to injury but out of a wish to protect the young Brazilian.

"I took Vini Jr [off] to avoid any issues," Ancelotti said, quoted on Madrid's website. "The game was heating up, for us and for Granada I thought it was best to take him off."

Karim Benzema fully merits the plaudits for a stunning start to the season, according to Real Madrid team-mate Toni Kroos.

Benzema scored Madrid's second goal in a 2-1 win over Rayo Vallecano at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday and leads LaLiga for both goals (10) and assists (seven).

He has now been directly involved in 22 goals in 15 matches for Madrid in all competitions this season, trailing only Bayern Munich talisman Robert Lewandowski (25 involvements in 17 matches) of players in Europe's top-five leagues.

"I see what Karim does in training and how he plays and deserves every success," Kroos told Movistar.

"But what matters to me is what you win with us. I am happy with my goal but because it helped us win. The individual awards do not interest me much.

"We came from a tough match in the Champions League and at 2-1 you suffer a little. Vinicius has helped us a lot so far, in difficult times too, and I hope he continues like this."

Benzema has now reached 10 goals in 11 of his 13 seasons in La Liga (10 in 2021-22) and only former Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi (15) has scored 10-plus goals in more campaigns in the competition in the 21st century than the French striker.

The 33-year-old Benzema was substituted by Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti with seven minutes left and replaced by Eden Hazard.

Ancelotti felt Benzema could have got more goals – having had one struck off by VAR early in the first half before he netted from close range – but suffered from fatigue in the second half.

"It's quite rare that Karim misses the opportunities we've had," Ancelotti added. "I have removed him because he was tired."

Rayo pulled a goal back through former Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao, who has netted a goal every 67 minutes in LaLiga this season with the best ratio in the competition (five goals after 334 minutes played).

Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois admitted the failure to keep a clean sheet took the gloss of the victory and his team-mates must learn to grind out a victory if they are unable to be prolific in front of goal.

"It was part good and part bittersweet at the end," Courtois said.

"We controlled the game, but in the end they almost ended up drawing. Today the three points were very important. They have pushed and we don't take advantage of our chances to score more goals.

"We managed the game quite well, but in the penultimate corner they almost scored a goal and there we have to improve. The team has shown that it knows how to fight and that we are focused until the end. 

"We have to try to keep a clean sheet and close out the game. It's something we have to change because we have a lot of quality to score more goals."

Karim Benzema continued his fine form in front of goal as Real Madrid went top of LaLiga with a 2-1 win over Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

Toni Kroos put Madrid ahead when he finished off a counter-attack in the 14th minute, the goal awarded after a VAR review having initially been ruled offside.

Benzema's 10th league goal of the season – and ninth in 10 against Rayo – made it two seven minutes before half-time, but Madrid sat back following the restart and Radamel Falcao's response ensured a tense finish.

Rayo could not quite forge an equaliser, though, and Madrid moved two points ahead of Real Sociedad at the summit at least until their trip to Osasuna on Sunday.

Alvaro Garcia had almost given Rayo a shock early lead when he broke clear of the Madrid defence only to send his shot wide, a chance that jolted Carlo Ancelotti's side into life.

Vinicius Junior had the ball in the net, yet the VAR determined Benzema had been offside in the build-up, and the France forward then lifted a shot over the crossbar from a good position before Kroos scored on the break, rifling in from Marco Asensio's cross and this time seeing the technology work in Madrid's favour.

Madrid went into the interval two goals ahead when Benzema got on the end of a superb teasing cross from David Alaba and calmly nudged the ball into the net at the back post.

Ferland Mendy teed up Benzema to curl over just after the hour, but a brief cameo from Falcao – introduced in the 69th minute before departing in the 81st – brought Rayo back into the reckoning as his header from Garcia's cross deflected off Alaba and deceived Thibaut Courtois.

Madrid fans then had their hearts in their mouths at the death when Oscar Valentin saw his shot blocked by Eduardo Camavinga and Kroos crucially cleared his follow-up effort off the line.

Toni Kroos has fallen out of favour with Real Madrid. 

A January transfer is a top priority with the World Cup looming.

Could a reunion with Pep Guardiola await? 

 

TOP STORY – KROOS HEADED TO CITY?

Manchester City have reached out to Toni Kroos about a January transfer, El Nacional reports. 

The Germany international has played in just one league match for Real Madrid this term. 

The 31-year-old previously played for City boss Guardiola at Bayern Munich and a reunion could be on the cards. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Ferran Torres is set to land a contract extension at Manchester City, says the Daily Star, with the new five-year deal set to pay him £100,000 a week.

- Lazio midfielder Luis Alberto could be headed for a reunion with Simone Inzaghi at Inter, reports Calciomercato. 

- Everton lead several clubs in pursuit of Manchester United's Jesse Lingard, says Football Insider, with West Ham and Newcastle United also interested. 

- Liverpool and Manchester United are among the clubs queuing for 18-year-old United States and Dallas sensation Ricardo Pepi, the Mirror reports. Milan, Juventus and Bayern Munich also have been linked to the teen. 

- Newcastle have increasingly focussed on Ajax's Erik ten Hag to replace Steve Bruce, the Express reports, adding that Marc Overmars could also make the move to St. James' Park as director of football. 

 

Toni Kroos is hopeful Real Madrid will finally land Kylian Mbappe next year after a failed attempt to sign the Paris Saint-Germain in the most recent transfer window.

Madrid are reported to have had three bids turned down for the France international in July and August, the last one said to be worth up to €200million.

However, Mbappe is due to become a free agent at the end of the season and can therefore secure a pre-contract agreement with Madrid – or any other foreign club – from the start of January.

Kroos has previously talked up the prospect of his side bringing in Mbappe and remains eager to link up with the 22-year-old in 2022.

"In the summer, I already said that I would like a player like him to come, but if he doesn't, we have a good team," he told Goal.

"Let's see what happens in the future. It is difficult for me to say, because I am not the one who decides. 

"His quality has not changed – he is a good player and what we know is that Madrid wanted to sign him but in the end they didn't succeed. Everything continues, also without Mbappe here.

"I think we are doing well and for the future my opinion has not changed: the best players have to be at Madrid, and he is sure to be one of them."

Mbappe has four goals and five assists in 10 games this term – only international team-mates Karim Benzema and Paul Pogba (both seven) have set up more goals in all competitions among players from Europe's top five leagues.

The PSG star has gone five matches without finding the net himself, however, after failing to add a goal to his assist for Lionel Messi in Tuesday's 2-0 Champions League win over Manchester City.

While PSG were claiming a deserved victory over fellow heavyweights City, Madrid slumped to one of the biggest shocks in the competition's history as they fell 2-1 to Sheriff.

That was just Los Blancos' second defeat in 32 group-stage games at the Santiago Bernabeu, having previously lost to CSKA Moscow in December 2018.

Madrid have otherwise made a positive start to Carlo Ancelotti's second spell in charge, and Kroos, who made his first appearance of the season as a second-half substitute against Sheriff, believes the Italian's methods have changed over time, having been signed during his previous stint.

"Yes, there is a difference, but our relationship still remains very good," he said. 

"I had a good relationship with him in 2014. I haven't played many games so far [this season], so I can't say exactly what has changed because I haven't had many talks with him."

Real Madrid star Toni Kroos appeared to tease the possibility of Kylian Mbappe joining the LaLiga giants following Lionel Messi's move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe continues to be linked with a blockbuster transfer to Madrid as he enters the final year of his PSG contract and the France international is no closer to signing a new deal.

PSG have no intention of selling Mbappe, who was jeered by sections of the crowd before and during Saturday's 4-2 Ligue 1 win over Strasbourg.

With Barcelona great and six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi now in Paris, Kroos mischievously suggested his presence in the French capital could lead to Mbappe's departure.

"We will see how everything goes [regarding the signing of Messi to PSG]," Kroos said on Einfach mal Luppen – a podcast he runs with his brother.

"The move may be good for us because our biggest rivals have lost their best player.

"And something even better may come out of it as a consequence. Maybe a player from Paris [Saint-Germain] will join us... I don't know."

 

Mbappe was on target as Mauricio Pochettino's PSG overcame Strasbourg, with the World Cup winner having now either scored or assisted in seven consecutive matches in Ligue 1 (eight goals, four assists).

It was Mbappe's 150th Ligue 1 appearance – in the past 40 seasons, only Zlatan Ibrahimovic (113) scored more goals in his first 150 games than the Frenchman (108).

Real Madrid look set to be without Toni Kroos for the start of the new season, with the midfielder confirming he has been suffering with a pubic bone issue.

Madrid confirmed on Tuesday that Kroos, who retired from international football following Germany's disappointing showing at Euro 2020, had been diagnosed with a pubalgia – a strain or tear of the soft tissue in the groin.

Kroos subsequently revealed on Twitter that he had been suffering with the problem for some time.

"After several month (sic.) of problems on my pubic bone I think it's time to give it a rest and work on it to be well prepared for a long season. Back asap as always," the 31-year-old tweeted.

On Wednesday, reports in Spanish publication AS suggested Kroos could be out for around a month.

Even if the estimation proves incorrect, Kroos seems highly unlikely to be able to play in Carlo Ancelotti's opening LaLiga match of his second stint in charge of Madrid.

Los Blancos, who face Milan on Sunday in their final pre-season friendly, take on Deportivo Alaves on August 14. They then travel to Levante and Real Betis before the first international break of 2021-22.

Kroos made 28 league appearances last term, scoring three goals. 

Toni Kroos has retired from international football after Germany's defeat to England at Euro 2020, declaring: "I want to concentrate fully on my goals with Real Madrid."

Midfielder Kroos announced his decision in a post on Instagram, expressing disappointment he had not been able to bow out on a high.

Kroos wrote: "I've played for Germany 106 times. There won't be another time.

"I would have dearly wished, and I gave everything again, that there would have been 109 internationals in the end and that this one big title, the European Championship, would have been added at the end.

"I had made the decision to quit after this tournament a long time ago. It had been clear to me for a long time that I would not be available for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. More than anything, because I want to focus fully on my goals with Real Madrid for the next few years.

"In addition, from now on I will deliberately allow myself breaks that have not existed as a national player for 11 years. And moreover, as a husband and dad, I would also like to be there for my wife and three children.

"It was a great honour for me to be able to wear this jersey for such a long time. I did it with pride and passion."

Kroos would have got to 109 caps if he had played every game in a triumphant Germany campaign, but their 2-0 defeat to England in the last 16 of Euro 2020 ended those hopes.

Now 31, Kroos broke into the Germany squad at the age of 20, making his debut in a friendly against Argentina shortly before the 2010 World Cup, for which he was selected by Joachim Low.

He was a World Cup winner with Die Mannschaft in 2014 and scored 17 goals over the course of his Germany career.

His decision to step away from the national team comes as long-serving coach Low also departs, with former Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick taking charge.

Kroos made sure to thank Low, coach for every step of his international career.

"Thanks to all fans and supporters who carried and supported me with their applause and cheers. And thanks to all the critics for their extra motivation," he wrote.

"At the very end I would like to say thank you very much to Jogi Low. He made me a national player and world champion. He trusted me. We have written a success story for a long time. Good luck and success to Hansi Flick."

Toni Kroos has retired from international football after Germany's defeat to England at Euro 2020, declaring: "I want to concentrate fully on my goals with Real Madrid."

Midfielder Kroos announced his decision in a post on Instagram, expressing disappointment he had not been able to bow out on a high.

Kroos wrote: "I've played for Germany 106 times. There won't be another time.

"I would have dearly wished, and I gave everything again, that there would have been 109 internationals in the end and that this one big title, the European Championship, would have been added at the end.

"I had made the decision to quit after this tournament a long time ago. It had been clear to me for a long time that I would not be available for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. More than anything, because I want to focus fully on my goals with Real Madrid for the next few years.

"In addition, from now on I will deliberately allow myself breaks that have not existed as a national player for 11 years. And moreover, as a husband and dad, I would also like to be there for my wife and three children.

"It was a great honour for me to be able to wear this jersey for such a long time. I did it with pride and passion."

Toni Kroos has retired from international football after Germany's defeat to England at Euro 2020, declaring: "I want to concentrate fully on my goals with Real Madrid."
 

England midfielder Declan Rice is "relishing" the opportunity to face Germany duo Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller in a mouth-watering Euro 2020 last-16 clash on Tuesday. 

Gareth Southgate's side came top of their group, taking seven points from games against Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic without conceding a goal, ensuring they will begin the knockout rounds at Wembley Stadium.

There, they will face Germany for the third time at a European Championship and the first in a knockout match since the Three Lions lost on penalties in the semi-finals of Euro 96.

West Ham midfielder Rice has started all three of England’s games so far and is likely to be in from the start against two players who he has expressed admiration for in the past. 

After Bayern Munich's 2020 Champions League final triumph over Paris Saint-Germain last year, Rice tweeted: "Muller has to be up there as one of the most underrated players of all time! Serious footballer."

He followed this up in April with a tweet about Kroos after Real Madrid's 3-1 Champions League victory over Liverpool, saying: "Watching Toni Kroos is very special." Los Blancos midfielder Kroos replied: "Thanks mate."

Kroos has been exemplary for the 2014 world champions so far in this tournament. No player has completed more passes at the finals than the 31-year-old (280), with 217 of those occurring in the opposition half – by far the best return at the tournament.

Speaking at a media conference on Friday, Rice described Kroos as "world class" and said he cannot wait to go toe-to-toe with him.

 

"I can't remember what my tweet actually was but I woke up to him saying 'thanks mate'," he told a media conference. "It was a good moment to be fair and the lads at West Ham were giving me a bit [of stick] for it.

"If you go back to the tweets, I have always said I am a fan.

"When there are big games on and you are watching, you appreciate top footballers. Obviously that night I felt the need to say [what I did] about Muller and Kroos.

"I am relishing to go out there and put myself up against the best. It is England v Germany, round of 16, at Wembley, it is going to be proper, so I need to go out there and give a solid performance myself and as a team.

"Kroos is world class, other midfielders like me want to test ourselves. But we need to impose ourselves on the game and be physical and stop him spraying it around the pitch."

Tuesday's game will be the third meeting between England and Germany at the European Championship. Germany won 6-5 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in the 1996 semi-final, before England won 1-0 in the group stages at Euro 2000.

England will be hoping to improve on a poor record in the knockout games in this competition, having never won one in 90 minutes (D4 L2). Four games have gone to penalties, with England only progressing once via this method, against Spain at Wembley in 1996.

Jordan Henderson thinks England's hopes of beating Germany in the Euro 2020 last 16 could rest on keeping the ball away from Toni Kroos as much as possible.

Gareth Southgate's side came top of their group, taking seven points from games against Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic without conceding a goal, ensuring they will begin the knockout rounds at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday.

There, they will face Germany for the third time at a European Championship and the first in a knockout match since the Three Lions lost on penalties in the semi-finals of Euro 96.

Joachim Low's side scraped through a challenging Group F, Leon Goretzka's late equaliser against Hungary on matchday three ensuring they finished behind France and above Portugal thanks to their superior head-to-head record.

While England's route through the groups was somewhat sedate, with two 1-0 wins and a goalless draw with Scotland, Germany won a six-goal thriller with Portugal before battling to a 2-2 draw with Hungary after falling 1-0 to France.

Amid their inconsistencies, midfielder Kroos has been exemplary for the 2014 world champions. No player has completed more passes at these finals than the Real Madrid man (280), with 217 of those occurring in the opposition half – by far the best return at the tournament.

 

Given Germany have averaged 64.7 per cent of the possession in their games, a figure lower only than Spain (76.1), Henderson is eager to disrupt Kroos' rhythm as much as possible by retaining the ball and getting it into England's forwards.

"They're a top team. You go through every position on the pitch and they've got world-class players everywhere, so it's always going to be a tough game," he said on Thursday.

"With the ball, it's extremely important to keep it, especially against Germany, who are a fantastic team who've got very good technical players who can dominate games with the ball. We need to be defensively solid, like we have been, because they've got players like Kroos that can hurt you.

"He's a world-class player who can really hurt you with time and space, so we need to make sure that, without the ball, we're really solid.

"When we get it, we need to be calm and composed, but also positive with the play, getting the ball forward and trying to create as many chances as we can because we've got some fantastic forward players who can hurt any opposition. If we can get the ball into them and let them do their thing, I think we can be in for a real good night."

Penalties dominate much of the pre-match talk, not least because Germany beat England on home soil on spot-kicks 25 years ago, with current boss Gareth Southgate missing the crucial attempt.

Henderson was in the headlines during the warm-up for this tournament, the Liverpool man taking the ball from Dominic Calvert-Lewin before seeing his penalty saved during the 1-0 friendly win over Romania in Middlesbrough.

"It was blown out of proportion, to be honest, after the game," Henderson said. "Nothing to be said internally. I was obviously disappointed to miss but I was more disappointed for Dom as well because he could have had another goal for England."

Real Madrid would be "negligent" if they failed to bring Sergio Ramos back to the club one day, according to former team-mate Toni Kroos.

The LaLiga giants announced last week that the long-serving centre-back is to leave the club after a remarkable 16-year spell in the Spanish capital.

Ramos won LaLiga five times with Madrid and helped Los Blancos to four Champions League titles, among an array of other major honours.

But the Spain international will start a new adventure next season after Madrid withdrew their offer of a one-year deal on reduced terms, as confirmed by the long-serving defender.

Kroos spent seven seasons playing in the same side as Ramos and believes the 35-year-old will return to the Santiago Bernabeu in the future.

"I am sure we will see him at Real Madrid again, whatever his role," Kroos said on his Einfach mal Luppen podcast.

"It would also be negligent not to have someone like that at the club and keep him. He can still contribute a lot in the future."

Ramos joined Madrid from Sevilla in 2005 and made 659 appearances for the club in all competitions, the last of those coming against Chelsea on May 5.

Kroos, who has two more years to run on his contract, admits it is difficult to envisage a future without the experienced defender at Madrid.

 

"I do not know Real Madrid without Ramos," he said. "It was inconceivable that he was not going to finish his career at Madrid. I expected him to stay.

"He is not only a first-rate player, but also the best captain I have ever seen because he always fought for the team on and off the field.

"If you ask 100 rival forwards which defender they least liked playing against, Ramos' name will be mentioned quite often. It was good to have him on our team."

The 21 games Ramos managed in an injury-plagued 2020-21, totalling 1,790 minutes, was the fewest he has played across a season since joining 16 years ago.

His previous lowest tally was the 33 matches he played in 2015-16, totalling 2,843 minutes in all competitions.

Ramos was left out of Spain's Euro 2020 squad due to his injury issues, but he has been linked with a string of big-name clubs ahead of the new campaign.

"I'm not sure where he will go next, but I'm sure he will make a good decision," Kroos added. "The seven years I spent with him, as a player and as a person, were incredible."

Page 1 of 3
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.