Posts Tagged ‘Toni Kroos’

The Champions League climax no one saw coming is final-ly (sorry!) upon us.

This was supposed to be the ultimate El Clasico; the grandest game on the grandest stage.

Not one, but two teams decided to spoil the party. And it could be even better for it.

Bayern’s role in the final was always set to be hosts. However, while it had long been known the game would be played at their home, no one expected them to be in.

Chelsea, meanwhile, thwarted their modern rivals Barcelona. They came through far from unscathed, but came through nonetheless.

Both sides have had casualties, mostly because of suspension. David Alaba, Holger Badstuber and Luis Gustavo miss out for Bayern. Chelsea’s losses were even greater: Ramires, Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and, of course, John Terry are all forced to sit this one out.

The defence of both teams is where the suspensions have stung the most, and could well have the greatest impact on the game. The loss of Badstuber and Alaba means the left half of Bayern’s back four is missing.

Philipp Lahm will switch to left back, where he is equally as excellent, but the incoming Rafinha at right back and Daniel van Buyten at centre half are less so, and the likes of Juan Mata and Didier Drogba will more than fancy their chances against them.

It’s the same story for Chelsea, who will likely see a centre back pairing of David Luiz and Gary Cahill, and are set to be in for a tough night against the freescoring Mario Gomez. Similarly, Franck Ribery will be licking his lips at the thought of running at Jose Bosingwa.

In midfield, meanwhile, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien will need to turn the clock back and play like their old selves against a midfield duo of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos. The former is rightly regarded as one of the best central midfielders in the world, and Kroos – who has had a stellar season – will surely be in time.

It’s likely to be a fairly tight affair, and Chelsea will need to be at their Barcelona-beating best to come away with their win. In my opinion, especially given the fact they’re virtually the away side, that will be a bridge too far.

Key Man: Toni Kroos. Talk will be of Gomez, ‘Robbery’, Mata, Drogba and so on. But it’s the young midfielder who is capable of pulling all the strings.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-1 Chelsea

Who do you think will win? Make a prediction in the comments section below…

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It could have been an England shirt.

Every club makes mistakes when it comes to young players. Lewis Holtby was Borussia Monchengladbach’s.

Having joined their youth team at age 11, he was told at 14 that he was “too small and too slow.”

Holtby made the move to Alemannia Aachen, and following their relegation from the Bundesliga, he made his debut at the age of 17, although he was far from a regular.

He did establish himself in the first team the following season, and it wasn’t long before scouts from many a Bundesliga club were looking at him. The side that did get him was Schalke 04.

After half a season with The Royal Blues, he was sent out on loan to VfL Bochum to gain more experience. Gain experience is exactly what he did, playing 14 times, scoring twice and showing a lot of potential.

That potential began to turn into something substantial and consistent with a second loan move, this time to Mainz 05 for the duration of the 2010/11 season. It was, ultimately, the making of him.

Given plenty of freedom and with little expectation, he shone at Mainz, playing 30 games and establishing himself as something of a creative force, in particular one with an eye for a pass.

His form didn’t go unnoticed by the national side. He was handed the captain’s armband of the U21 side, and a full cap came at the end of the 2010/11 season in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Azerbaijan.

The ended any aspirations the English FA may have had of persuading Holtby to pledge his allegiance to the country of his father’s birth. However, we may yet see Holtby in England, as like his father (a soldier from Liverpool, who was stationed in Monchengladbach) he is an Everton fan, and has made no secret of his desire to play for them.

As it stands at club level, he is progressing very nicely at Schalke, with the only criticism being he needs to add more goals to his game. At international level, his biggest problem is competition – with the likes of Gotze, Kroos, Ozil et al chances are going to be few and far between. Next time he gets one, he needs to take it.

Dynamic operator in the midfield who brings out the best of those around him. Terrific work-rate. Fast-tracked into the national side to keep him out of the clutches of the dastardly English – that’s how highly he’s rated.” John Dobson, journalist. @dopsonjp

The video below shows some Holtby highlights…

Kroos: Schweinsteiger’s long-term replacement?

Toni Kroos is, arguably, the reason more hasn’t been made of the absence of Bastian Schweinsteiger.

That’s not to say Bayern don’t miss him – any side would miss a player of his ability; nor is it to say Kroos is a better player – because he isn’t…yet.

But by the looks of things, he’s certainly on his way, and while Schweinsteiger’s injury may not have benefitted Bayern, it has benefitted Kroos.

Kroos was born in the town of Greifswald, and first emerged through the youth team of his local side – Greifswalder SC (now Greifswalder SV 04). Due to the club’s links with Hansa Rostock, it wasn’t long before he made the move there. And it was at Rostock he was spotted by Bayern Munich.

Kroos was snapped up in 2006 – aged just 16 – and moved to Bayern’s youth team. However, such was his potential, he was making his debut by the age of 17.

His ability didn’t go unnoticed by his senior teammates. Miroslav Klose said of him: “When you see in training, the talent he already has at such a young age, he really is a world-class player. These thoughts were echoed by legendary ‘keeper Oliver Kahn, who said: “He’s the best I’ve seen for years at youth level.”

In January 2009 he was sent on loan to Bayer Leverkusen for 18 months, a move that would ultimately be the making of him. He established himself in the Leverkusen side almost immediately, but it was the following season – his first (and only) full one with the side – that he really made an impact.

He featured in 35 games for Leverkusen in the 2009/10 season, scoring nine goals and helping Leverkusen achieve a 4th place finish. Unsurprisingly they wanted to keep him; even less surprising is that Bayern said no.

Heynckes: big impact on Kroos' career

Since then he’s gone from strength to strength, and, especially since Jupp Heynckes – who he played so well under at Leverkusen – took over, he has began to establish himself as a first team regular.

As mentioned, the injury to Schweinsteiger has perhaps benefitted him. He’s since been deployed in a slightly deeper role, and after perhaps initially looking slightly uncomfortable, now appears to be reveling in it.

The same can be said at international level. He’s came along at a time of plenty for German football, especially in terms of attacking midfielders, yet still made the squad for the 2010 World Cup and is almost certain to do so for Euro 2012.

As stated, he isn’t on Schweinsteiger’s level yet. But if he keeps going the way he is, he may not be long before he reaches it, and perhaps even surpasses it.

“Just a few years ago, Kroos was arguably Germany’s biggest talent. He joined Leverkusen on loan and, under Heynckes, played an incredible season. Hopes were high but when he returned to Bayern with coach Louis van Gaal, he struggled. But now that Heynckes is back, Kroos is better than ever. Probably the closest you’ll get to a playmaker in modern football, his passing is world-class. The only thing Kroos lacks is speed, aside from that he’s brilliant. A superstar in the making.” Bayern Munich blog Red Robbery. Twitter: @redrobbery

“Toni Kroos is looking Schweinsteiger-esque, and when you compare the two at age 21, Kroos is a much better player. The question now is whether he can round off his game with a bit more defensive class; if he can, he will be world class.” – Clark Whitney, goal.com German football editor. Twitter: @Mr_Bundesliga

Germany currently has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to up-and-coming young stars. Thomas Muller, for example, is only 22 – but you’d be forgiven for thinking he was older, such were his performances at the 2010 World Cup. Holger Badstuber, Mats Hummels, Marco Reus and the Bender twins – all just 22. Mesut Ozil is practically a veteran at 23 years old.

So, out of those aged 21 and younger, who is the best? I have deliberately left the name Mario Gotze off this list, as I’ve no doubt he’d come top. So perhaps I should ask, out of those aged 21 and under, whose number isn’t Mario Gotze, who is the best young German prospect?

Please vote in this poll to decide. I’ve put a few names down, but I want as many opinions as possible, so feel free to use the ‘other’ box if I’ve missed out someone you feel is worthy. Thanks.