Kroos and Modric, the endless duo

Against Atalanta, Zidane combined them to do Casemiro's work and it came out perfect. UEFA is already wondering if they are the best core couple in the history of the Champions League.

Shortly after the end of the duel in Valdebebas, in which Real Madrid certified its presence among the eight best in Europe with its victory against Atalanta (3-1), after two years of setbacks in the second round, the UEFA Champions League put the question in the air: "Luka Modric and Toni Kroos: the best midfielder pair that has been seen in the history of the Champions League?". Bigger words, in a tournament that saw Ancelotti and Rijkaard triumph in Sacchi's mythical Milan, Xavi and Iniesta with Barcelona, or Neeskens and Mühren with Johan Cruyff's Ajax. With three consecutive Champions League between 2016 and 2018, the Modric-Kroos couple already rub shoulders with the rest of the members of that club.

Zidane was planted in the round of 16 of the European Cup in trouble: Casemiro saw the yellow in the first leg and could not play against Atalanta due to the accumulation of cautions, reducing intensity and deployment to the white midfield. The pools pointed to Valverde as a substitute for the Brazilian, although the Uruguayan is a long-distance insider and not a defensive pivot. Zizou went another way: he reinforced the rear with three center-backs and placed double pivot Modric-Kroos ahead.

The experiment was a success: Madrid knew how to contain the Bergamo team's first arreón and neutralized it for most of the match. He only released the strap after 2-0, with the tie resolved. Between Kroos and Modric they gave 189 passes, 174 of them good, they recovered 25 balls (Modric, with 16, was the best in this aspect), they only lost 16 and entered 20 disputes (they won nine). The Croat also allowed himself to go up to start the white pressure in some moments and in one of those he caused the 1-0, recovering the ball after a bad serve from Sportiello and then assisting Benzema. It is Modric's fifth goal pass so far this year, to which he adds four goals with his signature; Kroos has scored two targets and assisted seven times. Between them they add 18 goal participations, in this Madrid post Cristiano in which scoring is everyone's task.

Kroos, at 31, is in his prime; Modric, with 35 and designated MVP against Atalanta, is surprising everyone with his resistance, at an age when a slow decline is to be expected. Zidane preserved the Croatian last season, dosing him to get his best resources at designated times. This season started the same, but the plague of injuries and his outstanding performances changed the script, to the point that he has already played almost as many minutes as in the entire 2019-20 season: they were 2,628 ', this course accumulates 2,617'. His work for years with the physical trainer Vlatko Vucetic, a professor at the Faculty of Kinesiology in Zagreb, bears fruit and Zidane takes advantage of it: "He is 35 years old ... But they are not noticeable" .

The aforementioned UEFA tweet was not the first of the night; before he had launched another in which he asked his followers to choose: "Kroos or Modric?". The protagonists took sides: the German retweeted, commenting: “Y” (instead of the o); the Croatian genius was more direct: “Better together”. And on, Internet users gave their verdict on whether or not they are the best core couple in the history of the Champions League: after more than 20,000 votes, 90% said yes. Demolisher.

Vital and with a white future

Modric and Kroos already occupy an illustrious place in white history: the Croat, with 378 games, is already the 25th with the most duels played in the club's history and the sixth foreigner; the Teuton has been in 312 games and recently beat Stielike (308) to become the German with the most white appearances. Since they shared a dressing room, they have been omnipresent for their coaches: without counting injuries or penalties, Modric has played 73% of the possible minutes; in the case of Kroos, less prone to injury, that percentage rises to 81% .

Zidane does not see them end: the Croatian is the sixth most used player this course; the German, the seventh. And this story has not ended, because Real Madrid has both for the near future: Modric ends his contract in June, but he already has an agreement with the club to extend it for another year, until 2022; Kroos renewed in 2019 and extended his relationship with Real Madrid, at least, until 2023.

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