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Toni Kroos Leads Germany with Renewed Confidence Ahead of Spain Quarter-Final Showdown UEFA Euro 2024

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Introduction

Host nation Germany faces Spain in Friday’s UEFA Euro 2024 quarter-final in Stuttgart. Riding a wave of belief not seen in the proud football nation for almost a decade, Germany is confident of a deep run. After a series of poor performances at major tournaments, the most decorated nation in European football history is again hopeful. Germany veteran and 2014 World Cup winner Toni Kroos said on Wednesday, “The goal is to win the tournament. We want to go a lot further, and in the dressing room, we are very convinced we will achieve that.”

Germany’s Newfound Confidence

This bold stance is a far cry from nine months ago when Hansi Flick became the first coach sacked in Germany’s history after a 4-1 loss to Japan in Wolfsburg. His replacement, Julian Nagelsmann, initially struggled, winning only one of his first four games in charge. However, in March, he laid the groundwork for a successful Euro run.

Nagelsmann’s Key Changes

Nagelsmann made 11 changes to the squad, bringing in players from eventual Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen and surprise runners-up Stuttgart while axing several big names. His most crucial step was bringing back Toni Kroos, who had stepped down from international football in 2021. The midfielder has excelled in what will be his final tournament before retiring from football completely.

Tough Road to the Quarter-Finals

Germany has faced challenges along the way. They have won three matches and drawn one, showing resilience in tough situations. Kroos pointed to the “difficult situations” that have honed Germany’s tenacity. “Against Hungary, we had difficult moments, against Switzerland, we were behind. Versus Denmark, things did not go so smoothly,” Kroos said. “Something like that helps you get through tough phases, stay calm, and believe in yourself. We now have a different belief. We are now winning games or at least not losing games that we were clearly losing in the past.”

Showdown with Spain

The clash between the tournament’s two most impressive teams – and the only sides to have won three Euros titles – is a marquee matchup that many expected to see in the final in Berlin. With other pre-tournament favorites like France, England, and Portugal stuttering, the winner on Friday will be favored to go all the way to the German capital.

Spain’s Formidable Record

Spain has been formidable, winning all four of their matches at Euro 2024, scoring nine goals, and conceding just once. In contrast, Germany has shown resilience and growth throughout the tournament.

Kroos’ Experience

Toni Kroos, a player with an unblemished record of success, believes the will to win comes “only through experience.” He explained, “You can have a winning mentality or belief, you can live it, but it’s hard to convey it in conversations. You have to go through experiences, and that’s how your belief grows more and more.”

Facing Familiar Foes

Kroos will face Spain, the country he has lived in for the past decade. He said his knowledge of the Spanish players from his time at Real Madrid offers no clear advantage, as “they’re all pretty well known. I don’t think we’re expecting any big surprises.”

Overcoming Criticism

Kroos felt underappreciated in Germany, motivating his decision to leave Bayern Munich for Real Madrid in 2014. Bayern powerbroker Uli Hoeness criticized Kroos, calling him “sideways pass Toni” and claiming in 2021 that “Toni Kroos has no place in modern football anymore.” Asked if the Spanish appreciated his value faster than the Germans, Kroos said, “I’ll say it like this: some of them understand quickly, and some others need a bit more time. But eventually, they all understand.”

Toni Kroos and Germany head into their UEFA Euro 2024 quarter-final showdown with Spain riding high on renewed belief and confidence. Fans eagerly await this high-stakes match, hopeful that Kroos and his teammates will continue their journey towards glory in the heart of European football.