If there is a game capable of marking the season in one way, that is the Classic. The coaches have already had time to do tests with live fire, in the League the teams have uncovered their cards and the Champions League, reached the halfway point of the group stage, has defined with what mattress or anguish the horizon of the eighth of final. AND for that challenge at the Camp Nou, Ancelotti has his engine ready. The engine room that has, with this, seven seasons, starting the gear of Real Madrid: the historical trio that make up Modric, Casemiro and Kroos.
Carletto waited eleven games to put them together. Of course, forced by the circumstances. A pubalgia delayed the debut of Toni Kroos, who missed the first eight games for the whites. After filming against Sheriff and Espanyol, the German returned to the starting eleven against Shakhtar. A crucial game in Europe after the defeat against the Transnistrian team. It was the first flying goal of the season and Ancelotti faced it after drawing conclusions. “I have tried to defend with a 4-4-2 and it has not gone well. The idea that I have now is very clear. This team has to play 4-3-3. There are games that the team can play without a pure winger, but I think it’s the best system for this squad, “Ancelotti said in the Kiev preview.
The Italian coach has tried alternatives, aware that he does not have a specific replacement in the position that Casemiro occupies. He thought of the double pivot as a solution that also allowed him to find a fit for other players, such as Hazard. But he has ended up surrendering to the same evidence to which Zidane soon delivered himself with brilliant results, including three Champions in his first stage. If they are in conditions and the rotations do not rule, Modric, Casemiro and Kroos are indisputable.
The triumvirate met again in Kiev. The Brazilian and the Croatian had already met five times in the first ten games. The German, after overcoming his pubalgia, had only had minutes in the last two games before the break, next to the Balkan, but without coinciding with the Paulista. In that search for alternatives by Ancelotti, Casemiro (29 years old) has had rotations, something he is not used to (He has been the leader of the white squad in minutes in three of the last four seasons). He did not play against Mallorca and was a substitute in the defeat at Cornellà. Modric (36) missed the matches against Levante and Betis due to an adductor injury. The white coach also gave him a break against Mallorca and came out as a substitute against the Sheriff. Kroos (31), meanwhile, had his first minutes against the Sheriff and has started against Espanyol and Shakhtar.
Casemiro brings the defensive balance. Modric, the magic, crowned with the Ballon d’Or that he won in 2018. This season, the Croatian is the white player who passes the most in the opposite field and in the last third. AND Kroos boasts a masterful time management and surgical precision in the pass. He has 70 assists in his stage in Madrid.
Since 2015-16, the season in which the Brazilian returned from his assignment at Porto, Casemiro, Modric and Kroos have coincided in 157 games. And they are close to reaching a hundred wins together. Madrid’s balance with the trio on the pitch is 98 wins (62.4%), 32 draws (20.4%) and 27 defeats (17.2%).
The day after tomorrow It will be the thirteenth Classic that the three play together. In the previous twelve they have reaped six victories, three draws and three defeats. In the last three matches against the Catalans, they have celebrated the triumph of their team and have been active participants in them. Kroos gave the assistance to Vinicius who opened the scoring in the last match at the Bernabéu before the pandemic; Modric, coming off the bench, scored the 1-3 that closed the game a year ago at the Camp Nou; and the German scored the second at 2-1 at the Di Stéfano. On Sunday they are going for their seventh joint victory. The usual engine keeps running.