Toni Kroos speaks to UEFA.com about life at Real Madrid CF, working with Carlo Ancelotti, getting used to his new midfield role and why he is just so confident.
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After eight years with FC Bayern München, German international Toni Kroos switched to Real Madrid CF in the summer and is enjoying his new environs.
Arriving as a FIFA World Cup winner at the reigning European champions, Kroos was moved into a more defensive midfield role by coach Carlo Ancelotti. The 25-year-old has responded with a series of flawless displays, including in the 2-0 victory at FC Schalke 04 that leaves Madrid in an enviable position for Tuesday's UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg.
Kroos sat down with UEFA.com to discuss life at Madrid, working alongside Ancelotti and his aim for another European club title in Berlin in June.
UEFA.com: How would you sum up your start at Real Madrid?
Toni Kroos: It has been a good start for me. I have been here a while now, so [my start] is in the past. It's gone well from the off. For the time being, we are first in our league and still in the race for the Champions League, and I hope we will be successful. As far as I am concerned, I hope to contribute to that success.
UEFA.com: One quality that is impossible to overlook with you is confidence. It comes across in your play and in the way you handle the media. What do you put that down to?
Kroos: We all have a different temperament. I just draw my confidence from my own qualities. I know what I'm capable of – that's where most of my confidence comes from.
UEFA.com: Carlo Ancelotti has put a lot of faith in you – he made it a priority to sign you. And since you've joined he's described you as 'a professor'. Tell us about your relationship with him.
Kroos: He trusted me from the beginning in a position where I hadn't played that much, which was nonetheless in midfield. I enjoy playing in this position. Our relationship is good. We communicate a lot before each game. We discuss how I have to approach each game according to the opponent we're facing. I still don't know every team that well, which is normal. But he tries to fill in the gaps.
He's also one of the reasons I came here – I think it's normal to talk with the coach before taking that step. He gave me a positive impression and told me Madrid would be even stronger with me in their ranks. It was obviously a good conversation.
UEFA.com: How would you define your role as a midfielder? You show great instinct, decisiveness, finesse and vision. How are those different attributes balanced in your game?
Kroos: Playing in midfield is difficult nowadays – you have to be versatile, be good on and off the ball. You have to defend well, build up the attack and be good at winning individual battles. These positions are hard to master, and I'm trying to integrate all that into my game, I'm trying to get rid of my weaknesses. I know I can make further progress. I think I am on the right track.
UEFA.com: Tell us about the part the UEFA Champions League has played in your career? Since making your debut as an 18 year-old for Bayern against Fiorentina, you've really grown as a player in the competition.
Kroos: Yes, this competition is always brilliant, especially when you reach the knockout stages. At this point, the games are tight and you meet the best teams in Europe. The greatest challenge is to show what you can do season in, season out in the competition.Of course, the highlight of my career at this level was winning the tournament with Bayern, and I will try to repeat that success with Madrid.