Germany’s strikers get all the attention at World Cup, but Toni Kroos drives its attack


REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

As Germany has bludgeoned its way to Sunday’s World Cup final against Argentina with an unrelenting flood of goals, a large portion of the narrative has unsurprisingly centered on its strikers — Miroslav Klose and Thomas Müller. And justifiably so. The 36-year-old Klose scored his 16th career World Cup goal — the all-time record — against Brazil in the semifinals. Müller, his 24-year-old teammate, is not far behind, with 10 goals to his name already.

Meanwhile, Toni Kroos, a key catalyst to Germany’s potent attack, is operating in relative anonymity. The 24-year-old central midfielder has delighted soccer pundits and purists alike, but lacks name recognition with casual fans.

Kroos’s composure and sniper-like passing in midfield is a key component to Germany’s meticulous attack. This World Cup, Kroos is fourth overall in total passes per game (83), completing 91.2 percent of his attempts. More impressively, that percentage isn’t inflated by playing purely short passes. Kroos has attempted nine long balls per game, good for fourth in the tournament. Kroos has also knocked in two goals and has three assists. His set-piece delivery from free kicks was the difference in several matches, most notably setting up the winning goal against France in the semifinals.

With those numbers in mind, it’s little surprise that Kroos is Germany’s second-highest-rated player through six games, according to soccer stat site Whoscored.com.

His World Cup performance punctuates arguably his best season to date, a season that included helping Bayern Munich to the Champions League semifinals, dismantling two English Premier League powerhouses along the way.

It’s little surprise that one of those teams, Manchester United, reportedly tried to bring Kroos to northern England to the tune of a £260,000-a-week contract, which would have made Kroos the second-highest-paid player on the squad behind Wayne Rooney. However, this was back when David Moyes was in charge and before incoming Manager Louis Van Gaal put an end to those talks, to Paul Scholes’s disappointment.

Kroos may still be on the move, though, as the latest rumor is a $42 million transfer to Real Madrid, which could already be a done deal, depending on how much you trust a certain Spanish newspaper.

While Luis Suarez’s transfer to Barcelona dominates European back pages, the less-publicized Kroos transfer could have a similar impact on Europe’s power balance. But before that happens, he may get to lift yet another trophy.

Thomas Johnson is a reporter.
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Neil Greenberg · July 12, 2014