While the world was scrolling constantly on Twitter or Facebook, desperately waiting for the news of Martin Odegaard to arrive at Arsenal, Real Madrid’s midfield pairing Toni Kroos and Luka Modric were preparing to get to work.
Zinedine Zidane and the club itself have come under some pressure in recent days, following the news that the young Norwegian playmaker was once again having to depart Madrid in search of game time. If the Madrid head coach can’t find space for this young prodigy then something must be desperately wrong at the Santiago Bernabeu.
That was, of course, until Madrid stepped on to the Alava pitch and dominated the relegation battlers from first whistle to last through the clinical and consistent touches, dribbling and passes of Kroos and Modric, the two men that have blocked Odegaard’s promotion to the first team.
On the night Kroos was awarded man of the match with his Football Critic score of 9.2, while Modric came close in second with a score of 8.2. Here’s why they were so impressive.
Not only did Kroos make more passes than any other player over the course of the night, but he also made more passes into the final third and on two occasions he picked out a teammate to knock the ball into the back of the net.
The German international’s first assist came from the corner flag, when his swung in cross found the leaping head of midfield battler Casemiro to head it into the back of the net. The second came just before the break when Kroos picked out the out-of-form Eden Hazard to stab home only his second goal of the season.
Modric was just as impressive in the middle of the pitch. Over the course of the game the Croatian playmaker made 15 passes to the final third, one big chance and even picked up an assist for his troubles when he found Karim Benzema in the penalty box to make it four for Madrid on the night.
Although Alaves are by no means title challengers and Madrid’s senior pairing will have to prove they can continue to dominate games against better and more physical sides, on Saturday we got a fair retort to the suggestions that Odegaard should be front and centre of Zidane’s team. There’s still plenty of life left in both Kroos and Modric and they’re still intent on running the show from Madrid’s midfield.