Real Madrid play waiting game over fitness of Toni Kroos

Andy West 11:24 11/05/2015
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Regular fixture: Toni Kroos has started more games in La Liga and the Champions League this season than any other player at Real (44).

Real Madrid are hopeful that Toni Kroos will be fit for Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Juventus, but the Spanish giants have been suspiciously ambiguous about the injury which forced him out of Saturday’s meeting with Valencia.

German midfielder Kroos hobbled off the pitch clutching the back of his right leg midway through the opening period of the 2-2 draw, having appeared to pull up sharply when chasing back towards his goal during a Valencia counter-attack.

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He was immediately substituted by Asier Illarramendi and headed straight down the tunnel, with the initial widespread assumption being that he had suffered the kind of hamstring injury which usually keeps players on the sidelines for at least two weeks.

However, manager Carlo Ancelotti was surprisingly upbeat after the game, claiming: “Kroos had a blow to his hip and we are going to evaluate it. It doesn’t seem to be a muscle problem and we are quite positive about it.”

The lack of clarity in Kroos’s message was accompanied by an absence of definite information from his club, who generally release an official statement to confirm the severity of an injury when a player undergoes medical tests.

Whatever the true extent of the 25-year-old’s physical condition, Ancelotti will be desperate for the German World Cup winner to make himself available for the crunch clash with Juventus because the centre of the field is already a major problem area for Los Blancos.

Luka Modric’s ongoing absence through injury has even seen Sergio Ramos moved from his usual defensive position to play in midfield, although that experiment was abandoned against Valencia on Saturday as Kroos was accompanied by Isco and James Rodriguez in an attacking 4-3-3 shape.

Ancelotti appears to have little confidence in potential replacements Illarramendi or Lucas Silva, who have only been trusted to start a combined total of 12 league games.

Another option, Sami Khedira, also seems to have been ruled out amid reports that he is set to leave the club at the end of the season after failing to earn a new contract. The German has not played for two months and is officially nursing an undefined injury whilst training apart from his colleagues.

If Kroos is unavailable, then, it would leave Ancelotti with the option of again moving Ramos forward from his usual defensive position, or handing a start in the team’s biggest game of the season to Illarramendi or Silva despite his apparent lack of faith in their abilities.

Madrid’s need for Kroos to play is further heightened by the goalscoring return to action made by Juventus midfield ace Paul Pogba on Saturday, and Ancelotti faces an anxious couple of days contemplating his plans.

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