Maybe it is adolescent flashbacks of being trodden on by less gifted opponents that ensures he never gets caught in possession. A fear of having to win the ball back necessitates a need not to give it away. On Wednesday evening at the Allianz Arena, the ball will have felt so protected it must have been in danger of drifting off. Of the 78 passes the Real Madrid schemer attempted on his return to Bayern Munich, 76 were completed. Even in the most exalted of company, he was happy to push the ball around with a nonchalant precision uniquely his own.
He could not have been more relaxed had he been directing proceedings via a deckchair stationed on the halfway line. It was a mini-masterpiece of a performance. One of those rare occasions when an elite sportsman is in absolute control of his ability, it was possible to watch Kroos without experiencing the tension that usually goes hand-in-hand with a game of such magnitude.
It felt a little like observing Brian Lara hit a century without breaking sweat, the ball conquered to the point it was happy to be part of the event rather than trying to define it. Toni Kroos misplaced just TWO passes vs. Bayern Munich this evening. In terms of timing, it could not have been worse for Manchester United.
It coincided with Real losing control of a match in which they allowed Antoine Griezmann to score a late equaliser. Kroos' stock has never been higher. The sound of bickering that could be made out over applause for Kroos' performance on Wednesday was perhaps United executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, arguing with the club's bank manager about extending an overdraft facility that already dwarfs accumulative Third World Debt. In the perpetual discussion of how United could look to reacquaint themselves with former glories, after four seasons in which they have never been better than mediocre, allowing De Gea to leave is rarely at the top of anyone's list of things to do.
Mourinho says he's 'not interested' in speculation linking De Gea with Real Madrid again. Says he 'doesn't see' problem with his focus. It was always a case of when, not if he would attempt to resurrect a return to the city of his birth, after a move to the Santiago Bernabeu failed to get over the line during the summer transfer window. De Gea likes Manchester and the privacy a city that respects personal boundaries affords him. He did not sign a new contract that ties him to the club until flippantly.
The heart wants what the heart wants, though. It's unlikely Brad Pitt ever found looking at Jennifer Aniston too much of a hardship, but Angelina Jolie was still too much to resist. Myopic views are not uncommon in football. Real Madrid may be a goldfish bowl that has seen its fair share of messy divorces, but every player in the world wants to swim in it.
It's hypothetical at this stage. Zidane letting one of his best players leave seems a little fanciful, while Kroos would need to be convinced to swap Madrid for Manchester. At the least, it seems likely United will need to match that, even if they head into any negotiations replete with the fattest wallet in the whole of Europe. Kroos in the Europa League just doesn't scan. Many would argue allowing De Gea to leave to facilitate a move for Kroos, however unlikely, would be akin to selling a hinge to fund the purchase of a bracket.
United are nowhere near strong enough to allow world-class talent to leave via the back door, regardless of who is coming in through the front entrance. Great sides usually have a great goalkeeper, but they can only ever do so much. Leeds United got by with Gary Sprake in the '70s. The argument a De Gea-less United in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson years would have been bad to the point of absolute embarrassment is valid. Nonetheless, accepting a goalkeeper is your best player feels a little like conceding the cure for baldness is wearing a hat.
Pardon the pun, but it doesn't quite get to the root of the problem. United might not need the money from any sale, but they could do with Kroos. If it were a straight choice between him and De Gea, one suspects Mourinho would plump for the midfielder. Especially given the fact it seems his goalkeeper will look to engineer a move over the summer, regardless. Mourinho is happy to perpetuate a view profligacy is the reason his Manchester United side is 18 points behind Chelsea , despite being 21 league games unbeaten.
To an extent, it's a fair assumption to make. In terms of goals conceded, only Tottenham Hotspur can boast a stingier back line. Going forward, it's a different matter. If the back end of the horse is Marilyn Monroe, the front end is Marilyn Manson. Of the top six, United have scored at least 14 goals fewer than any of their rivals. They have only scored one more than Bournemouth. In nine draws in the league at Old Trafford this season, some attempts on the opposition goal have been rained in. Six goals have been scored.
Dele Alli has scored It was the same story in Anderlecht on Thursday in the Europa League. After a draw in Belgium, a crestfallen Mourinho went on the attack with a decisiveness his forwards can only dream of, per Ducker : "If I was a Manchester United defender, I would be very upset with the attacking players because they have to kill the game and they didn't.
United will need to bring in a centre-forward in the summer, regardless of what Zlatan Ibrahimovic decides on his future. If the Swede goes, they will need two. It's disingenuous, though, on Mourinho's part, to suggest better finishing will provide anything other than a short-term fix.
Inherent problems with this United side run far deeper than that. The individuals cited have all underperformed in an attacking sense, but they are all good players. They have not all lost form simultaneously purely by chance. Mourinho needs to take his share of the blame. United's buildup at home is still at times almost as slow as under his predecessor, Louis van Gaal. There's no doubt Mourinho's team is more engaging than the Dutchman's, but it is still far from fluid. Horribly laboured in the way they turn the ball over, it hardly takes Rinus Michels to point out the reason why opposition teams always look so comfortable at a ground where once they would have settled for a defeat at kick-off and forfeited the game.
United take so long to move the ball from back to front, visiting teams are already set by the time it is anywhere in the vicinity of their goal. The way Mourinho talks at times, it's as though the other leading clubs never have to deal with teams setting up defensively against them.
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Redblacks Stampeders. Featured Teams. Bayern Munich Dortmund. Celtic Rangers. Toggle navigation Log In. Raphael Honigstein Feb 24, The quintessential Toni Kroos moment arrives before he does. ETA in 11 minutes. Not ten, not Above all, the unhurriedness.
Too many old players. Wrong tactics. Wrong attitude. The spartan team camp in Moscow. Everyone would have blamed everyone and everything for Germany's worst World Cup in 80 years but, worst of all, not everybody would have really cared all that much. A strange sense of un-involvement and disengagement at home has accompanied the team to Russia, made up of many different factors such as unease about the political motives of the host nation, terribly overblown marketing speak by the German FA and many players coming across as one-man brand ambassadors, more interested to collect social media followers than to connect with their public.
On top of all that, the undead army of "proper football men" from the s and s -- the Stefan Effenbergs and Mario Baslers -- who have always distrusted Low's cultured ways and the current generation of quiet, technical professionals, felt encouraged by the bad start to snipe at the team from sidelines.
He explained that those words were directed at a press "that doesn't help" and at the pundits back home, not the supporters in the streets and in front of the televisions. But in truth, those delineations have long blurred. The country -- in football and beyond -- has been gripped by divisive forces, feeding on fear. It doesn't feel like a coincidence that Angela Merkel, whose chancellorship began one year before the World Cup romance, appears on the brink this summer -- just as football chancellor Low was on Saturday, with a few seconds to go.
A first win at the World Cup will not nearly be enough to disperse all the negativity that's been hanging over both sets of Germanys. But Kroos's sensuous, sensational free kick at least freed his compatriots from having to cope with additional, unknown levels of misery. Instead, it served as a last-minute reminder that the potential for happiness and unity, however fleeting, still exists. Skip to navigation.
Kroos rekindles Germany's love for the World Cup. Everton beat Spurs in extra-time FA Cup goal-fest. PSG's Neymar injured ahead of big clash at Barca. Tuchel issues Kepa warning: Don't try too hard. PSG win but Neymar hurt ahead of Barca clash. Double winners Borussia Dortmund, 12 points back and Bayern's nemesis over the last couple of seasons, can still wreck the Reds' season.
A defeat for Jupp Heynckes' men on their own pitch would open old wounds -- Bayern hasn't beaten Dortmund in six attempts -- and cast more doubt over the complex managerial issue. Heynckes' contract is up in the summer, but he might have to be persuaded to continue if Bayern's No.
There's also the possibility that the cup game could unsettle Bayern before the second leg of its last 16 Champions League tie with Arsenal. A Bundesliga sellout? Schalke 04 may have successfully fended off interest in striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar -- the Dutchman renewed his contract until before the end of the year -- but there'll be a whole wave of interest in other Bundesliga-based players.
The Bundesliga clubs need to try and resist the urge to cash in on their assets if the current purple patch on the pitch is meant to continue. The fixture list of the "Nationalmannschaft" in is a kind one. It shouldn't drop any points before traveling to Sweden in October.
Just as important as the results in the World Cup qualification will be the performances, however. The friendly against Didier Deschamps' resurgent France in February will offer a few useful pointers in that respect -- provided there won't be too many absentees. The biggest task is to get out of the rut that has beset the team since the Italy defeat at Euro Germany needs it groove back.
It's imperative that the feel-good factor will return well ahead of World Cup finals in Brazil. The twilight of Thomas Schaaf. In charge since , the Werder Bremen manager is the closest the Bundesliga comes to Alex Ferguson's longevity.
The northern club prides itself on keeping cool under pressure, but Schaaf's reign might come to an end this year. In the league, his newly assembled Werder are languishing in 12th, unable to put together a good run due to chronic defensive problems. Even at its very best, Schaaf's Bremen always looked top heavy.
But his ultra-offensive lineup has arguably exacerbated the fragility at the back. In order to make meaningful additions in the summer, Werder has to qualify for European competition. Money is tight. Should the year-old former midfielder fail to make a push for the top side of the table, the mood for a change at the helm will grow.
And in Klaus Allofs, the newly appointed sporting director at Wolfsburg, Schaaf has lost his staunchest ally.
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Aug 12, Bayern have won eight consecutive German league titles but the trophy they crave above all others is the Champions League. Your Champions League questions answered. Aug 11, From free-scoring Atalanta to struggling Barcelona, our experts answer your Champions League questions in-depth before the quarter-finals. Aug 9, Aug 7, Gosens, the uncapped German wing-back with nine goals and eight assists for Atalanta in , on being a late bloomer, Bergamo and PSG.
Aug 6, The Comeback, No. Aug 5, The story of West Germany's dramatic comeback from two goals down in the World Cup final against the world's dominant side Hungary. Jul 31, Klinsmann arrived as "the most hated figure in football" - his impact persuaded other clubs to chase overseas stars and the rest is history.
Simon Hughes, James Pearce and more. Jul 21, To mark Liverpool lifting the Premier League trophy, the men who developed their stars tell the beautiful stories of how they started out. Raphael Honigstein and more. Jul 14, The teenager came close to moving to Old Trafford but will follow in the footsteps of Jadon Sancho by moving to Germany instead.
Honigstein: How to fix the broken Bundesliga. Jul 12, Bayern's dominance is to be admired but it does not help the Bundesliga. This is how the competition could be fixed. Why anybody could win it — the lowdown on the Champions League hopefuls. Jul 10, Our experts make cases for the 12 clubs remaining in the Champions League after the draw was made for next month's quarter- and semi-finals.
Jul 9, Exclusive: Liverpool explore technology that could let fans in Anfield next season. Jul 7, Liverpool will hold talks this week with German technology company behind successful tests at Borussia Dortmund and Hertha Berlin. Sam Lee, Raphael Honigstein and more. Jul 3, Sane's switch to Bayern happened despite years of ill-feeling between them and Manchester City.
Here is that story. Jun 30, Old friends of Jurgen Klopp discuss the Liverpool manager's career as a player and a coach, and the values that underpin everything he does. German FA director Oliver Bierhoff discusses Timo Werner, why delayed Euros works in their favour and plans to revitalise youth development.
Jun 22, Wolfsburg striker Wout Weghorst has spent his career silencing the doubters and would have been in the mix for Euro selection. Why Leroy Sane is leaving Manchester City. Sam Lee and Raphael Honigstein. Jun 19, Leroy Sane has twice agreed a contract with Bayern, now Pep Guardiola has confirmed he will leave Manchester City - this is why. Jun 16, In December, Bayern were seventh. Now they are champions again after 23 games unbeaten - and they have their little-known coach to thank.
The race for Kai Havertz, one of the most coveted players of his generation. Jun 12, The story of how a talented kid who gave up in games became the focus of Europe's biggest clubs. Jun 8, The year-old Wirtz became Bundesliga's youngest goalscorer with his strike against Bayern and there are huge hopes about his future.
Jun 6, How Chelsea's new striker overcame adversity to become one of the most ruthless finishers in Europe. The inside story of how Chelsea landed Werner. Liam Twomey, David Ornstein and more. Jun 4, The Germany international had looked destined for Liverpool, but then along came Chelsea. Five subs and no crowds have helped Bundesliga to avoid feared injury spike. A highly-respected coach in Germany has said we should wait to evaluate injury data, while comparisons to last season show similar numbers.
Honigstein on the journeyman coach who cured Hertha of their old delusions. Jun 1, Bruno Labbadia has transformed Hertha Berlin since the shambolic Jurgen Klinsmann era and they are now chasing a place in Europe.
May 29, Schalke have not won in 10 games under David Wagner and they may be grateful that their fans are not there for game against Werder Bremen. Relentless Bayern are seriously good again — and will only get better. May 27, Bayern's win against Dortmund puts them on brink of an eighth consecutive Bundesliga title.
Now their focus will turn to conquering Europe. May 25, Julian Brandt has been invaluable for Dortmund this season and could be vital as they look to topple Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. Honigstein: Der Klassiker — clashing styles, serious talent and a must-view game. May 24, Raphael Honigstein and Dominic Fifield. May 22, The Bayer Leverkusen defender's rise to elite level has been one of the fastest ever - and it doesn't look like stopping any time soon.
May 20, The Dortmund striker's background and wariness of being tripped up mean he is different. But that's not a reason to go after him. Inside closed doors: What happened behind the scenes as the Bundesliga returned. May 18, The Bundesliga was the first of Europe's major leagues to restart football at the weekend.
Here's what it was like for those involved May 15, Ahead of the weekend derby against Schalke, Borussia Dortmund's Sebastian Kehl explains the unique challenges his club has had to face The Revierderby? May 13, Borussia Dortmund versus Schalke 04 will take place in an empty stadium on Saturday. Two opposing fans discuss the th derby…. May 10, The Bundesliga is back this week - and there are many, many reasons you should be excited The rise of Giovanni Reyna. Sam Stejskal and Raphael Honigstein.
May 9, The Athletic spoke to Giovanni, his father Claudio, Dortmund executives and former coaches and team-mates about his remarkable development. Bayern convinced Sane wants move — the only significant hurdle left is the fee. May 8, The club remain confident the City winger will finally complete a move to Munich, with Sane keen to raise his daughter in Germany….
May 6, After initial confusion, plans are confirmed for football again but a plan for fixtures is needed Physically perfect, goal-obsessed Lewandowski is Bundesliga Player of the Year. Apr 28, The Bayern striker is chasing Gerd Muller's overall goal record in the Bundesliga and has his sights on Champions League glory Apr 27, A host of stars pick themselves having excelled this season but one name gets the nod after just nine appearances Will Chelsea come to his rescue?
Apr 26, Bayern Munich do not intend to make his season-long loan permanent, while Barcelona are open to offers for the year-old Explained: Cardboard cut-out fans and 20, tests — how Bundesliga will return. Apr 23, The German league is looking to return to action in less than a month and the details could help other leagues Did Bayern really save Dortmund? Apr 21, You asked if the myth was true that Bayern Munich bailed out Borussia Dortmund financially a few years ago Bayern press on with transfer plans as rivals fret over their future.
Apr 7, Hansi Flick's new deal to stay as coach is the first of many that the club hope to complete despite these uncertain times. World-class with and without the ball — when will Germany learn to love Thiago? Apr 6, The Bayern Munich midfielder is one of the best in the Bundesliga, yet there seems a reluctance to acknowledge his brilliance….
Rebooted: The fake manager who lasted only one training session. Mar 31, In , Austrian side Grazer AK gave a German comedian a day in charge of the first team as part of an elaborate prank Rabbi Matondo on leaving Manchester City for Germany and changing his game. Mar 22, The Wales forward is learning that work off the ball is important as that on it Erling Haaland: The making of a 21st-century goal machine. The rise and rise of Europe's most feared teenage striker Football tactics explained — by one of the best young minds in the game.
Mar 16, He should know - he didn't play professionally Mar 11, The Austrian midfielder shone as his side humbled Tottenham to stride into the Champions League quarter-finals The making of Julian Nagelsmann. Mar 9, Those who know the RB Leipzig coach well, including former team-mates and Serge Gnabry, discuss his strengths and what he has overcome Feb 28, Feb 27, A Gladbach fans' banner of Hoffenheim benefactor Dietmar Hopp has viewed by some as a death threat and led to a game being halted Simon Hughes and Raphael Honigstein.
Feb 26, Feb 24, The midfielder on Real Madrid being wrongly written off, Guardiola's influence on his career and getting texts from Gerrard about Liverpool. Feb 23, The Germany star discusses why he came close to move to Manchester United and his Bayern rejuvenation under Hansi Flick Honigstein: Storm Denis Zakaria blows away Dusseldorf and shows why Liverpool were once so keen on signing him.
Feb 17, The year-old Gladbach midfielder has been in impressive form of late, and Europe's top sides are all watching closely Honigstein: Revenge, nepotism and stodgy football — why Jurgen Klinsmann lasted only 76 days at Hertha. Feb 14, This RB Leipzig side are undoubtedly very good, but do they really have what it takes to go the distance in the title race? Feb 10, Julian Nagelsmann's side clung on to earn a draw away to Bayern - can they afford to be so inconsistent within the space of 90 minutes?
Feb 3, Alassane Plea was shown two yellow cards for dissent in a decision questioned by players and staff from Leipzig and Monchengladbach The great VAR debate: Scrap it or keep it? Michael Cox and Raphael Honigstein. Feb 2, VAR continues to cause debate - so if you had the power to scrap it or keep it right now, what would you do? Jan 27, Bad news for the rest of the Bundesliga — Leon Goretzka is showing signs of finally living up to the hype.
The midfielder scored as Bayern Munich walloped his old club Schalke , but wasn't 'sanctimonious' enough for an apologetic celebration Jan 24, After emerging from his brother's shadow, the former Chelsea youngster is proving a success at the Westfalenstadion Can Bruce bring out the best in Bentaleb? Newcastle gamble on the Spurs prodigy who was banned from the Schalke dressing room. Jan 21, The gangly Algerian's composure and athleticism will bring a new dimension to midfield - if his attitude is right Jan 19, The prodigious year-old is certain to move on to bigger things in time - even if Germans don't consider his treble a proper hat-trick Jan 14, The midfielder dreamed big at the start of the season - and his side are back on the up Alexander Nubel might be the next Manuel Neuer, but competition for playing time at Bayern could drive a wedge.
Matt Pyzdrowski and Raphael Honigstein. Jan 13, Signing Nubel was an opportunity Bayern couldn't pass up, but the timing presents a potentially tricky situation for the club Jan 10, Werner's 18 goals in 17 games have propelled Julian Nagelsmann's team to the top of the Bundesliga at the halfway stage Jan 9, Steve Bruce is looking to strengthen up to three positions - and former Everton man Lookman fits the bill Jan 6, The former Huddersfield manager has made his new club the most unexpected overachievers of so far A WhatsApp charm offensive from players, a lucrative offer from Puma and watching him 28 times live — how Dortmund won the race for Haaland.
Jan 3, A good relationship with Mino Raiola also made a big difference Klinsmann is looking good so far but plenty of others are looking over their shoulder Dec 27, Where the bottom four teams in Germany are going wrong so far Honigstein: RB Leipzig — a threat to German football or a welcome disruption?
It could be a lot worse…. Dec 23, RB are top of the Bundesliga at the winter break, and the prospect of them staying there is an unsettling one for the traditionalists Carlo Ancelotti is different: he puts players and owners before systems, as Everton will find out. Unlike Guardiola and Mourinho, the Italian is more relaxed, even leading training at Bayern while smoking a cigarette, but will it work? Dec 19, Chelsea and Manchester United were interested in Germany's brightest young talent but he was made to stay and now his form has nose-dived Skilful, intelligent and a nightmare to play against: Leipzig are the best team in Germany right now.
Tottenham face a very tough task in the Champions League last 16 against the well-balanced and dynamic Bundesliga leaders Bayern happy to be making return visit to London — and this time, they have long overdue revenge on their minds. The German champions will face Chelsea in the Champions League for the first time since the final - and they have a score to settle Influenced by Klopp, Rangnick and Tuchel, bold and brave Rose has Monchengladbach dreaming of the title.
The year-old has led his team to the top of the Bundesliga after 14 matches Joshua Kloke and Raphael Honigstein. The story behind Alphonso Davies, who is ploughing a lone furrow for Canadian football among Europe's elite Dec 9, Struggles of the champions are exacerbated by a range of hungry contenders who know the Munich club can be beaten Klinsmann is going to need a lot more than optimism to rescue Hertha.
Dec 2, The former Germany head coach has a big job on his hands to stop relegation Father, traitor, hero, coach: Jorg Berger fled to West Germany, left his son behind and was hunted by the Stasi. Nov 28, Ron Berger talks about his football-coach father's defection and their awkward reunion years later for the first time Some of the XI pick themselves but there are a couple of controversial choices in Raphael Honigstein's selection Nov 24, The former Huddersfield Town boss has lifted the gloom in Gelsenkirchen, with his side currently three points off the top Nov 19, Nov 11, A talented squad are motivated again after the removal of their inept manager, with their greatest rivals now facing difficult questions Ten years on from Robert Enke's death, his wife speaks about the former Germany goalkeeper, his legacy and the foundation in his name The Germans could be willing to wait all season to appoint a new coach, while Rangnick's availability may help Manchester United Nov 4, A bright start had West Ham dreaming of Europe, but problems with recruitment and injuries have come back to bite Pellegrini Now expect Rangnick or Ten Hag rather than Mourinho.
Nov 3, Bad results ultimately meant the Croatian jumped before he was pushed but he was far from popular Union rule Berlin after East beats West in derby of fire and fury. Hertha and Union's rivalry sprang from affection in the days before reunification but Saturday's meeting was tense and the result vital Oct 30, A look at how VAR has been received in Germany and what impact it has had on clubs and fans Oct 27, The Poland forward is breaking records at the age of 31 and has surprised staff at Bayern with his newfound concern for the greater good Oct 24, Niko Kovac and Lucien Favre are struggling to get their teams to click, and both sides struggled in the Champions League this week Oct 20, Turkish players in Germany have been told not to repeat the salutes that the national team performed to support military action Oct 12, The 'Big Friendly German' builds his ultimate footballer from those he's played with and against Meet the philosophical son of a butcher who could lose eight in a row and not be under pressure.
Freiburg's long-serving boss Christian Streich is certainly one of a kind - much like his club, who are fourth in the early-season table The former Arsenal man wrestled back control of his own destiny and stole the show on his return to north London Lederhosen, losing fat and beating Bayern — how Salzburg made Sadio Mane. Sep 30, A rift in the squad. Too many old players. Wrong tactics. Wrong attitude. The spartan team camp in Moscow.
Everyone would have blamed everyone and everything for Germany's worst World Cup in 80 years but, worst of all, not everybody would have really cared all that much. A strange sense of un-involvement and disengagement at home has accompanied the team to Russia, made up of many different factors such as unease about the political motives of the host nation, terribly overblown marketing speak by the German FA and many players coming across as one-man brand ambassadors, more interested to collect social media followers than to connect with their public.
On top of all that, the undead army of "proper football men" from the s and s -- the Stefan Effenbergs and Mario Baslers -- who have always distrusted Low's cultured ways and the current generation of quiet, technical professionals, felt encouraged by the bad start to snipe at the team from sidelines. He explained that those words were directed at a press "that doesn't help" and at the pundits back home, not the supporters in the streets and in front of the televisions.
But in truth, those delineations have long blurred. The country -- in football and beyond -- has been gripped by divisive forces, feeding on fear. It doesn't feel like a coincidence that Angela Merkel, whose chancellorship began one year before the World Cup romance, appears on the brink this summer -- just as football chancellor Low was on Saturday, with a few seconds to go.
A first win at the World Cup will not nearly be enough to disperse all the negativity that's been hanging over both sets of Germanys. But Kroos's sensuous, sensational free kick at least freed his compatriots from having to cope with additional, unknown levels of misery. Instead, it served as a last-minute reminder that the potential for happiness and unity, however fleeting, still exists. Skip to navigation. Kroos rekindles Germany's love for the World Cup. Everton beat Spurs in extra-time FA Cup goal-fest.
PSG's Neymar injured ahead of big clash at Barca. Tuchel issues Kepa warning: Don't try too hard.