Toni Kroos: Real Madrid do not need any extra motivation for Barcelona clash after 'special' Fifa Club World Cup win
The Primera Liga champions made history in the UAE but now focus turns back to domestic action and showdown with league leaders on Saturday.
Toni Kroos says Real Madrid’s Fifa Club World Cup victory will have little impact on this week’s crucial clash with Barcelona, although he described the record-breaking win as "special".
The Primera Liga’s defending champions host the current league leaders at the Bernabeu on Saturday in the season's first El Clasico fresh off an historic campaign in the UAE.
On Saturday night, Madrid defeated Gremio 1-0 at Zayed Sports City to become the first team to retain the Club World Cup, while the title secured in Abu Dhabi was their fifth of 2017. The reigning European champions had never before won five trophies in a calendar year.
Madrid have little time to bask in the triumph, though, since they face Barcelona in a make-or-break encounter in the league this weekend. With both having played 15 matches, Zinedine Zidane’s side trail their chief rivals by eight points and sit fourth in the table.
While the Club World Cup could provide an important platform going into El Clasico, midfielder Kroos replied: “For this game you don’t need anything special before or any motivation or anything. It’s better to go with a good feeling back to Madrid, but this game is special whatever happens before.”
Kroos was key to a second successive Club World Cup crown, and third in four years, for Madrid. Against Gremio, the German was excellent alongside Luka Modric in midfield, supplying the ammunition that eventually helped Cristiano Ronaldo notch the winner from a 53rd-minute free kick.
With the win, Kroos and Ronaldo have now an unprecedented four world titles. However, the former was delighted simply to make history as a collective.
“We represent the club and it’s always great if you do it in a good way,” Kroos said. “Especially five trophies, it’s crazy. Maybe at the end you can say this is easiest title to win. The biggest challenge is to arrive here because you have to win the Champions League for this.
“But at the end of the year it’s never easy. You have a long trip here and you know there’s an important game after. First you have to play every game, but it’s special.”
Ronaldo’s contribution in the Emirates ensured Madrid’s recent success sustains.
The Portuguese, the club’s all-time leading scorer, has been criticised for a relatively slow start to the domestic season in Spain – he has four goals in 11 league matches – but in Abu Dhabi he drew his side level in the semi-final against Al Jazira before grabbing the game’s only goal in the final. He is now the tournament's leading scorer, with seven goals.
Kroos was asked about Ronaldo again responding to his critics, but said: “This is good for the press. We know if he is on the pitch he tries to help us. He tries to score and he did it again in both matches. We don’t need to speak about how important he is to us.”
As well as attempting to catch Barcelona in the league, Madrid have a big tie to come in the Uefa Champions League beginning February, when they play Paris Saint-Germain across two legs for a place in the quarter-finals.
When his team’s last-16 opponents were decided last week, Kroos took to social media to tweet “nice draw”. He is still looking forward to the meeting with relish.
“The experience from the last year is that you have to beat the best to win this competition,” he said. “We did last year. We beat Bayern, we beat Atletico Madrid. We played Juventus; they put out Barcelona before. You need to beat the best and it’s a great challenge and I like that.”
Asked what would be the secret to matching their 2017 exploits in 2018, Kroos said: “Motivation, hunger for getting the next one. We are a little bit behind in the league. Maybe we can close this a little bit in some days, but we will still be behind so it’s going to be difficult to win the league for sure. We will try.
“Also, like you said, the next round in the Champions League it’s a 50/50 game and if you won it back-to-back before it’s never easy to do this again. But we will try. That’s all we can do.”
Updated: December 17, 2017 02:36 PM