Real Madrid: Guardiola "wanted me to renew" at Bayern - Kroos
Toni Kroos has looked ahead to Real Madrid's Champions League tie with Manchester City in a wide-ranging interview with The Athletic.
Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has spoken to the journalist Raphael Honigstein in a wide-ranging interview published in The Athletic ahead of Los Blancos' Champions League last-16 tie with Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.
On Madrid's Man City tie: "They will put everything in it now that the league is gone"
"I know their manager and I know they have good players," Kroos said as he looked ahead to a clash that pits him against a coach he worked with in his final season at Bayern Munich before his 2014 switch to Madrid. "I don't need to watch a lot of their games to know it’ll be very difficult against them. I'm looking forward to the tie. It will be extremely interesting - possession against possession.
"They will put everything in it now that the league is gone for them but so will we. Both teams can play on the break but the main aim will be to have the ball. As I see it, the key is to defend well when you can’t win it back immediately and use the bits of space that always open up in transition better than they will. A few individual moments like that will decide the tie."
Kroos on Guardiola: "I loved playing for him"
On Guardiola, Kroos said: "If you ask the players at Bayern today, they will still tell you he's the best coach they’ve ever had in sporting sense, and they've had plenty of others to compare with. I loved playing for him that one year. I want to finish my career at Madrid, so I'd say it's very unlikely [I'll work with Guardiola again], but I loved playing for him and could have renewed my contract at Bayern, of course. I don't think it's ever a good idea to sign a deal just because of the manager, however.
"Pep wanted me to renew but what would have been the point of me signing a five-year deal if the manager was off again soon? He went to Man City two years later but we're still in touch and get on very well. I will never forget it because I learned so much."
"It took us time to adjust to the loss of the 40 or 50 goals Cristiano Ronaldo guaranteed each year"
Asked about his poor form last season, in a campaign that saw Madrid fail to win any major silverware, Kroos conceded that Cristiano Ronaldo's departure for Juventus in summer 2018 had a major impact on the team. "A lot of us didn’t play our best football last season," he said. "After three Champions League wins in a row, you could perhaps expect to lose a bit of sharpness and it took us time to adjust to the loss of the 40 or 50 goals Cristiano Ronaldo guaranteed each year.
"But at Real Madrid, that's unacceptable. When we were knocked out by Ajax [in the Champions League last 16], many suggested that was the end of this team. We were written off as over the hill but that only provided extra motivation for us to prove them all wrong."
Full Athletic interview with Kroos:
You can read the full interview - in which Kroos also talks about Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, his near-move to Manchester United, and Luis Suárez and Steven Gerrard's attempts to lure him to Liverpool - here.