Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos lost a crucial battle in midfield vs Paris Saint-Germain

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…

Real Madrid began their 2019/20 Champions League campaign in the worst possible way, with a 3-0 defeat to PSG in France.

The key battle in the game, of course, came in midfield – but Real lost it.

On the chalkboard

It’s true that it was Angel Di Maria who ran the show for Paris Saint-Germain as they hosted the Galacticos in the City of Lights. After all, it was the 31-year-old Argentine winger who scored two goals on the night, completely dominating his opposition.

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But how exactly did it come to that? Bad defending? Perhaps. After all, that’s one of the problems this Real Madrid team is facing this season.

They still haven’t been able to keep a clean sheet in the ongoing campaign. But perhaps more concerning was the lack of control in midfield.

Toni Kroos, Los Blancos’ midfield general, lost his battle with ex-Everton star Idrissa Gueye and it immediately meant Real struggled to gain a foothold in the game.

A brilliant display

Zidane really needed his 29-year-old midfielder to best Gueye but it just didn’t happen.

Statistically, the Senegal ace edged out the German in almost all categories, establishing dominance in the centre of the pitch.

He registered 93.2% passing accuracy, while also notching three key passes, three dribbles and three tackles. By all accounts, he was a huge presence in both attack and defence, which can’t really be said for Kroos. The German recorded 93.3% passing accuracy, one key pass, two dribbles and two tackles.

Even though it wasn’t really a horrible night for Kroos, either, it was just not enough to stop Gueye’s dominance in the centre of the pitch.

Of course, Real Madrid were without Luka Modric, who is still recovering from his injury, and that meant that the German simply had to step up.

But he didn’t, he was outmatched, and his team paid for it.

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