Kroos vs Modrić

Discussion in 'The Beautiful Game' started by OffTheBallMovement, Sep 14, 2023.


Who is the best player overall?

  1. Kroos

    5 vote(s)
  2. Modrić

    10 vote(s)
  1. OffTheBallMovement

    Real Madrid
    Jul 18, 2023
    There seems to be a consensus in the football community that Modrić is a better player than Kroos. But I noticed that statistically Kroos is much superior to Modrić in practically all phases of the game (Defending, build-up, progressing, playmaking and finishing).

    Take a look at those numbers from 17/18 to 22/23. That's a 6 years spam so that can give us a good idea of the overall quality of them. I just took from 17/18 onwards because that's the most complete data we have on fbref. All numbers are from LaLiga + UCL on a per 90 minutes basis

    Deffensive contribution:
    Tackles + Interceptions + Clearances:
    Kroos: 3.22
    Modrić: 2.86

    Successful aerial duels (win %):
    Kroos: 0.45 (53.8)
    Modrić: 0.46 (40.8)

    Build-up contribution:
    Kroos: 99.1
    Modrić: 80.6

    Completed Passes (completion %):
    Kroos: 83.1 (89.9)
    Modrić: 63.4 (87.2)

    Progressive passes:
    Kroos: 11.3
    Modrić: 9.41

    Playmaking contribution:
    Assists (xA):
    Kroos: 0.20 (0.20)
    Modrić: 0.22 (0.18)

    Key passes:
    Kroos: 2.42
    Modrić: 1.65

    Through balls:
    Kroos: 0.24
    Modrić: 0.37

    Successful dribbles:
    Kroos: 0.63
    Modrić: 1.58

    Passes into the final third:
    Kroos: 11.2
    Modrić: 7.57

    Passed into the penalty box:
    Kroos: 1.14
    Modrić: 1.54

    Crosses into the penalty box:
    Kroos: 0.16
    Modrić: 0.16

    Goalscoring contribution:
    Kroos: 0.09
    Modrić: 0.12

    Kroos: 1.52
    Modrić: 1.31

    I'm curious to know what the Big Soccer consensus is and I'm open to insights and non-statistical reasons why Modrić is better than Kroos

    @lessthanjake @poetgooner @PDG1978 @SayWhatIWant @carlito86 @Sexy Beast @RamyBt
  2. SayWhatIWant

    SayWhatIWant Member+

    Jan 10, 2015
    #2 SayWhatIWant, Sep 14, 2023
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2023

    I've watched them both - Modric is the better player. Thankfully, they have complimentary profiles which is why the Real Madrid midfield was so strong.

    I will start with the most obvious point - defensively.
    There is no world where Kroos is more capable defensively than Modric. Many of Real's troubles came because Kroos' lack of pace and recovery ability when bypassed.

    Modric, on the other hand, in his physical peak (which is after what those stats are capturing...) had the stamina, work-rate and pace to provide defensive cover especially on possession turnovers:
    Kroos' tackles and defensive contributions are happening in smaller spaces/zones - he picks his moment and he is intelligent about it, but Modric usually had to cover huge swathes of space and produced more recovery runs which are not captured by data.
    Obviously, Modric got older and his defensive work really regressed compared to his peak - so that data has to additionally be understood in that context.

    Secondly, the progressive pass stat is rubbish for the record:
    From STATSBOMB: "This has been used successfully in the past to identify players who progress the ball well, but is still a relatively coarse approach. Fifty yard progressive passes are treated similarly to 15 yard progressive passes, and a 15 yard pass down the wing is treated the same as a 15 yard forward pass into the penalty box. "

    Those Xavi side passes to the wing which have a bit of a forward angle are all progressive. But none of these passes are line-breaking and destabilizing to the defensive shape.

    Likewise, Kroos occupies provides the bulk of ball-circulation out of transition. What he truly offers more reliably than Modric ever could are his long balls to switch the play. In this regard, the German is invaluable when the team is in a more possession phase. Kroos being extremely reliable in switches of play is the area of the game where he offers an advantage that Modric does not.

    In transition / counterattacking, Modric is more implicated with ball-carrying, dribbling, forward passing.

    Modric offers this sort of incisiveness, penetration that Kroos simply never could.
    He is better disruptor, better creator.

    Do not forget that Kroos takes care of set-piece duties.

    So I caution heavily at looking at stats at face value. These stats reward players who are heavily implicated via volume of touches, but are very basic. They in no way capture creative ability which is key in a midfielder or the true value of a pass since not all passes are created equal.

    Modric's genius assist to Rodrygo vs City is something Kroos would simply never do. Kroos is very much in the mold of a Xavi - reliable ball circulation in possession systems.
    OffTheBallMovement repped this.
  3. SayWhatIWant

    SayWhatIWant Member+

    Jan 10, 2015
    Another point I want to add is neither playmaker spent much time in Zone 14 (zone in front of penalty box or received the ball in that zone.
    This is because Real Madrid tactically tended to attack via the wings. Either through Marcelo or Carvajal. The major creative outlets in that zone were Marcelo and Isco (and later Benzema).
    OffTheBallMovement repped this.
  4. lessthanjake

    lessthanjake Member+

    May 9, 2015
    FC Barcelona
    Tagging @Isaías Silva Serafim who I know has lots of thoughts on this.

    Anyways, I think it’s really two fairly different players, so it’s hard to really make a direct apples to apples comparison. Modric is better at carrying the ball forward. Kroos is better at progressing the ball up the pitch with passing, including long passes. Kroos is also better at controlling the game in possession. Honestly, I don’t think either is incredible at actual direct chance creation (and, perhaps in part because of that, RM didn’t always really even ask them to do it a ton), but Modric does a bit more of it IMO, and this is one area where stats can be a bit misleading, because Kroos takes more set pieces than Modric and so he gets a good number of assists and key passes and whatnot from that. I’d be surprised if Modric didn’t have more of that stuff from open play. (Though of course being better at set pieces is a positive for Kroos that we shouldn’t totally discount). Defensively, Kroos I think gets more of those stats because he tends to play in deeper zones on average, but I think he’s actually a more static player defensively (though I don’t have particular statistics at my fingertips to prove that). Modric having more zip in his step also means he’s better in keeping up in quick counterattack situations, but Kroos can contribute to those with his superior long passing. They do both share being very hard to take the ball away from.

    So, to a large degree, I think it kind of comes down to what role you philosophically value more. I think they’re both missing a little something compared to the very top CMs of all time, but they both do plenty of things super well and they complimented each other really well.
  5. SayWhatIWant

    SayWhatIWant Member+

    Jan 10, 2015
    #5 SayWhatIWant, Sep 14, 2023
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2023
    "I think they’re both missing a little something compared to the very top CMs of all time."

    Dead :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO: Modric the ballon d'Or winner, WC golden ball, WC bronze ball, 5 time CL champion, WC 2nd place, WC 3rd place is just not a very top CM of all time.
    Thread derailed successfully. Such a clownshow

    A reminder Xavi performed at the highest level for a maximum of 4 years. Has only one WC where he did not absolutely flop, and that one WC he got 1 assist, no POTT placement. 2008 to 2012. Peak as short as Ronaldinho.
  6. Isaías Silva Serafim

    Real Madrid
    Dec 2, 2021
    Nat'l Team:
    Thanks for mentioning me, mate. The fact that Kroos is statistically superior has always intrigued me too. Right away I want to say that I consider Kroos better than Modrić for the same reasons that I consider Xavi better than Iniesta. I also want to see some thoughts of Carlito, poet and PDG on this.

    Having said that, I think Kroos is far better at long range passing to initiate counterattacks and switching play. Consequently, being better at long range passes makes him better at taking free kicks, corners, and set pieces in general. I see Kroos more as a deep-lying playmaker like Pirlo (although he is very versatile and can play as a #10 as he already played on Germany NT and as a #5 as he played last season on the absence of Casemiro). He is better at maintaining possession and dictating the tempo of a game given his amazing tactical awareness. I also think Kroos is phisically stronger than Modrić and maybe that's the reason why he is more effective at aerial (and ground) duels.

    Modrić is definitely better at close control (and maybe that's why people consider him better than Kroos since people overvalue dribbling above any other aspect of the game imo). His capability of retaining possession in tight spaces is his best asset. He is a player very hard of being dispossessed. That makes him look more dynamic and incisive since he is breaking the lines with his dribbling and creating goalscoring opportunities (although this is not confirmed by statistics). As SayWhatIWant pointed out, he had more pace and work rate also especially when he were younger so he is covering more ground off the ball I think. So we're comparing a deep lying playmaker with a box to box midfielder. (Again, the numbers don't backs up it). I also have the impression that Modrić is more of a big game player than Kroos. I can't remember a legendary Kroos performance at a late stage in the Champions League (He missed the 11/12 and 12/13 finals due to injuries). Modrić played a lot in the 13/14 final and against City in 21/22 as well.
    LaPulga22 and OffTheBallMovement repped this.
  7. SayWhatIWant

    SayWhatIWant Member+

    Jan 10, 2015
    I think what most value in Luka is not his dribbling. I am not sure that is his main claim to fame. There are different kinds of passes that a player can produce. Luka is more adept at generating passes and plays that destabilize the defensive shape of the opponent and more participatory in transition. Neither player occupies very offensive zones frequently, which is why you will not see anything major in terms of direct goal-creating actions - neither is that participatory in those phases of the game - and why should they be? Madrid had better balance delegating creative tasks to Marcelo, Isco, Benzema in those zones and attacked on the wing.
    Modric is capable of playing at a higher "game pace" than Kroos which is of serious value.
    When the game is more settled, and Real Madrid is advancing and trying to get the ball to the wingers in 1v1 scenarios, that's when Kroos operates better due precisely to his long ball game.
  8. ffff15

    ffff15 Member

    Sep 29, 2021
    Modric and it's not even a debate.
    SayWhatIWant repped this.
  9. poetgooner

    poetgooner Member+

    Nov 20, 2014
    Arsenal FC
    I think Kroos played a lot more like the deep playmaker than Modric. What's interesting is that they both obviously prefer that control role, but Kroos just had a knack of dropping deeper and pulling off these almost pirlo-esque type passes. Modric clearly isn't a classic no.10, but he was still more of it than Kroos was. Modric was never a volume creator, but as we saw with Madrid 21-22, when the team was honestly not playing that well, especially in the UCL, he still had the magic to make a difference in the final third.
    OffTheBallMovement repped this.
  10. Al Gabiru

    Al Gabiru Member

    Jan 28, 2020
    You could also include ratings from whoscored, sofascore and fotmob, which, if I'm not mistaken, tend to give Kroos a higher rating over the years.

    I would go with Modric. He plays in more dangerous areas, a better style for my taste (Kroos also has a lot of technique, but Modric's two-footed trivela passes are sublime). But the difference is smaller than the individual awards indicate. For me, they always formed a tandem that complemented each other like Xavi and Iniesta, and i always considered it a bit disproportionate that so many awards went to Modric (ballon d'or, fifpro world, uefa team of the year etc) and Kroos won much less, when these prizes should be shared much more between the two

    I also think that De Bruyne and Kimmich can be as good players as Modric and Kroos, but they obviously don't have the same CV, especially because they don't benefit from a partnership since football is a team game. For my personal taste, Modric is above because of the two-footed trivela passes, but I think the four have similar levels of game quality.

    The difference between who is the greatest (in which modric is miles ahead) or who is the best (in which the distance is much smaller)
    OffTheBallMovement repped this.
  11. LaPulga22

    LaPulga22 Member

    Messi FC
    Mar 10, 2023
    In terms of who he is the most Valuable in his Position and actual Perfomances.


    Kroos better INT Performer (KroosWC14 >ModricWC18 and also better Club Career. Kroos at Bayern was also far better than Modric at Tottenham
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  12. ffff15

    ffff15 Member

    Sep 29, 2021
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  13. SayWhatIWant

    SayWhatIWant Member+

    Jan 10, 2015

    Top of the FIFA/Castrol Ratings:

    2 goals
    4 assists

    If you recall the data I provided for Xavi, you can note that he plays deeper than Xavi.
    But had a more productive tournament.

    OffTheBallMovement repped this.
  14. SayWhatIWant

    SayWhatIWant Member+

    Jan 10, 2015
    More data:

    Will provide more shortly.
    But this may be one of the most underrated WC campaigns of the 21st century. What does everybody think?
    OffTheBallMovement repped this.
  15. OffTheBallMovement

    Real Madrid
    Jul 18, 2023
    Kroos were also the German highest rated player on Sofascore in the 2014 WC (including a slightly higher score than Xavi's in the 2010 World Cup)
    SayWhatIWant repped this.
  16. lessthanjake

    lessthanjake Member+

    May 9, 2015
    FC Barcelona
    #16 lessthanjake, Sep 15, 2023
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2023
    Kroos had a really good WC 2014 IMO. It’s worth noting, though, that all but one of his assists came from set pieces. And, more importantly, that’s kind of a consistent thing when looking at Kroos’s stats across all competitions, not just the World Cup. If you look at his stats, it looks like he’s both an elite controller of the game and progressor of the ball, and also a really good chance creator. The thing is, though, that the chance creation stats are very set-piece heavy, with not a great deal of open-play chance creation. The fact that he’s a really good set-piece taker is definitely valuable, but I don’t think we should take a glance at his stats and get the wrong idea about exactly what he’s bringing to the table or the role he was playing. He’s not really a player that combines control/progression and chance creation. Rather, he’s more a player that combines control/progression and good delivery of set-pieces.
    Sexy Beast repped this.
  17. SayWhatIWant

    SayWhatIWant Member+

    Jan 10, 2015
    #17 SayWhatIWant, Sep 15, 2023
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2023
    Rhetorical question since it was just brought up:

    How many assists does Xavi have from open-play in his entire WC history?

    Since we are discrediting Kroos in that regard (Xavi took more setpieces/corners than Kroos for the record in 2010 - so we are comparing apples with apples)

    For the record, Xavi played in 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014.
  18. SayWhatIWant

    SayWhatIWant Member+

    Jan 10, 2015
    The same rating system that ranks Xavi 2008 as number 1, Kroos 2014 as number 1, has Xavi 2010 as number 52!
    Keep in mind these two factors:
    (1) Rating system is not biased toward attackers unlike other systems - many defenders, keepers, mids can be in the top players.
    (2) The data inputed is FAR more comprehensive (entire touch data and running data for the player).
  19. SayWhatIWant

    SayWhatIWant Member+

    Jan 10, 2015

    The answer is 1 - a 1m non-opta backheel :

    So in 2014, Kroos in that WC alone matched Xavi's entire WC tally, and surpassed his total assist and goal figures across 4 WC's. I don't think there is any doubt in our community and among stats recorders that Kroos provided a superior performance in 2014 to Xavi's 2010.
  20. MT-123

    MT-123 New Member

    Jan 25, 2023
    #20 MT-123, Sep 18, 2023
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2023
    Agree with this. Modric has been the overall superior player for me, but it's still fairly close. We're talking about two midfield greats here, and them playing together for so long has been massive for Real.

    The thing about Modric is that he is so complete, a true allround midfielder. He's fantastic at practically everything, except that he doesn't have that much end product. But he's capable of genius plays there as well. Sensational player.

    Kroos' main role is a more specialized one, built around his ball retention, passing range and orchestrating talent. One of the great DLPs in football history, but this also comes with some self-restrictions, which sometimes leads to underrating his allround ability. (He's explicit about this tactical restraint when talking about his role in Real's collective, it's a conscious choice for the balance of the team.)

    As a contrast, it pays to look at Kroos's younger self often playing in a more advanced role for Leverkusen and Bayern. If I've done the maths correctly, Kroos contributed 30 goals and 32 assists from open play from 09/10 to 13/14 (club football only). 45 assists including set pieces. That's 0.35 g/a per 90 from open play, 0.43 overall.

    To me, Kroos always had the characteristics of an orchestrator rather than a final third player, but these numbers are nothing to sneeze at for a midfielder. And they show that the reduced output of his Real days owes mainly to tactics rather than ability. (Set piece assists went up, of course.) But I also think this shift to a deeper role actually maximized Kroos's in-game impact; being the central playmaking hub has always been his calling.

    Finally, as defensive stats have been posted in the OP: I think Modric's edge there is bigger than the numbers show, but with Kroos it has to be differentiated:

    He is valuable and intelligent in pressing and generelly defending with the ball in front of him. But he has a clear weakness tracking back when overplayed, and his defensive awareness around the box is unreliable. To me his only true weaknesses, but significant ones for a CM. Modric on the other hand has always been a dynamic end-to-end defender, so that's a clear plus for him.
    OffTheBallMovement and Sexy Beast repped this.
  21. poetgooner

    poetgooner Member+

    Nov 20, 2014
    Arsenal FC
    Yeah, these are all very good points. Kroos is closer to Xavi than Iniesta in playing style, while Modric is the opposite, even if neither Kroos nor Modric played as advanced as Iniesta or posses the Spaniard's ability to navigate tight spaces.

    I think what goes underrated by casual watchers, as in they don't watch a lot of Madrid/Germany full games, is how good of a passer Kroos was. It's more than just technique, where he can some time look like a Pirlo out there (but never quite an Ozil stylistically, if you know what I mean), but it was also his decision-making, which is such a key trait for his role. Almost every one of his passes end up at the feet of a teammates who was able to use the ball right away. Like, he rarely passed to a player under pressure or pass the ball in such a way that his teammate needs to take an extra touch before making a move. The weight and angle of his passes always arrived so optimally that it just sets up his teammates to take the next action. This is a severely underrated skill.


    I do want to say that both Messi and Ronaldo has enjoyed a luxury that very few players in history has enjoyed at club level. To be supplied by midfielders like Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Kroos, Modric, and Ozil is such an outlier of teammates quality. Some people are going to now look at Kroos assists to Ronaldo and miss the point. Yet if you actually just watch the game, it becomes abundantly clear that Messi and Ronaldo is able to put up such ridiculous stats partly because they always receive the ball in close-to-optimal situations.

    If Messi wants the ball in that right half-space channel, he just gets it. It doesn't become an assist for Xavi, but Messi gets it exactly where he wants it and he's then able to dribble/assist from there. If Ronaldo makes a run down the left channel, Ozil/Kroos just finds him, and Ronaldo is then able to combine with Di Maria or Benzema.

    And these types of actions are repeated dozens of times over 50 games a season. The story of Ronaldo/Messi is also the story of these midfielders and the story of the managers who put together the framework. I think it is of absolute importance that we recognize all of these greatness.
  22. lessthanjake

    lessthanjake Member+

    May 9, 2015
    FC Barcelona
    Yeah, I think this is something people understand in a general sense, but don’t always connect at an individual level to specific players. Like, I think we do acknowledge that great attackers these days (not just Messi and Ronaldo, but also guys like Lewandowski, Haaland, etc.) have often played on super teams and that that boosts their scoring/assist numbers. So there’s definitely a general acknowledgment that the other players on these teams are great and contribute massively to the attackers’ ability to score tons of goals. But I think sometimes individual players that made those contributions don’t actually get that properly attributed to them specifically. These midfielders (and other players too) on the best super teams of the era are really good and it has a huge effect on their team’s output!
  23. MT-123

    MT-123 New Member

    Jan 25, 2023
    Yes, I guess for onlookers the impact of a great conductor is often less tangible than that of more direct players. I think you spelled it out very well there. But one only has to listen to the way great players and managers speak of Kroos (Zidane, Scholes, Xavi, Klopp, ...) to get an idea of his status in the world of professional football, i.e. among those who are used to understand and work with (or against) this kind of impact.

    A just recent illustration was Real's game vs Union Berlin imo, where Kroos was subbed in. Real dominated the game from start to finish, but with the introduction of Kroos, there was an extra edge to the quality and purpose of their ball circulation, at least in my perception. He probably wasn't the only factor (fatigue, Real's late game raising habit, etc.), but to me he was the biggest individual one.

    And as you say later in your post, the sheer quality and consistency of these decisions and passes leads to better positions for attacking players time and time again, the benefits of which are self-explanatory.
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  24. OffTheBallMovement

    Real Madrid
    Jul 18, 2023
    In the last game against Getafe, Kroos' entry completely changed the face of the game. He deservedly won the MOTM award. Even though Bellingham gave Real the 3 points at the end of the game
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