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May 28, 2022 at 8.36pm UK at Stade Auguste Delaune
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Liverpool vs. Real Madrid player duels: Thiago Alcantara or Toni Kroos?

Ahead of the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, the Sports Mole team discuss who is the better midfielder - Thiago Alcantara or Toni Kroos.

Some of the world's best players will be on show in Paris on Saturday as Liverpool and Real Madrid go head to head in the biggest club game in football - the Champions League final.

It is the third time the two famous clubs have met in a European Cup final - a record for a single fixture - with the past two split one apiece, Liverpool winning in Paris in 1981 before Real Madrid lifted the trophy in 2018.

Ahead of the blockbuster fixture between two of Europe's most decorated teams, the Sports Mole team have compared every player likely to start the match for both sides in Paris.

Here, we discuss whether Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara or Real Madrid's Toni Kroos is the better midfielder.


Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos pictured on November 6, 2021© Reuters

Barney Corkhill, Editor

VERDICT: Toni Kroos

How to pick between two of the best midfielders of their generation? Midfielders who, between them, have won a staggering 17 top-flight titles and five Champions Leagues?

It really could go either way, and even now I am not entirely satisfied with my choice, simply because it feels wrong not to be picking Thiago. Liverpool's dismay at seeing the Spain international limp off against Wolverhampton Wanderers on the final day of the league season spoke volumes, with Thiago having earlier shown another glimpse of his class through his brilliant assist for Sadio Mane's equaliser.

It now looks as though Thiago will be in contention - something which did not look like being the case immediately after his withdrawal - which is very good news for Liverpool as he gives their midfield something that no-one else in their ranks can, and possibly the closest way to counteract Luka Modric and Toni Kroos's possession play.

However, while Thiago has been in incredible form in the second half of the season especially, Kroos has been a mainstay in the Real Madrid team throughout, providing a level of consistency which has led Los Blancos to another league title and another Champions League final.

There has been some criticism of Kroos this season, with his long-term future at the Bernabeu being questioned, yet his 39 starts across all competitions this term dwarfs Thiago's 25 for Liverpool.

Thiago has still directly contributed to more goals - seven to Kroos's six - although considering the creativity both players possess, combining for 13 goals in 82 games between them is a figure they would both want to improve upon.

Nevertheless, levelling the playing field by judging both players per 90 minutes they have played sees Kroos come out on top more often than not.

The German has more touches and completes more passes per game - with a higher success percentage too - in addition to creating more shooting opportunities for his teammates, giving him the slightest edge over his former Bayern Munich teammate.

It is an incredibly close one, though, and if you ask me tomorrow, I might have a different answer!


Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara pictured in December 2021© Reuters

Ben Knapton, Senior Reporter

VERDICT: Thiago

Toni Kroos had a rough time of things acting as the number six at the Etihad, but when the German is able to pull the strings in his usual midfield role, he pulls the strings with panache – a 94.9% pass accuracy throughout the season is evidence of that.

The exact same can be said of Thiago, who has silenced the critics claiming that he would not fit Liverpool's style of play with composed showings week in week out, and avoiding injuries has been key to the Spaniard's upturn in fortunes.

Again, this was an extremely tough decision, with both experienced pros already enjoying plenty of success domestically and continentally, but Thiago's major influence on this quadruple-chasing Liverpool side earns him my vote.


SPORTS MOLE VERDICT: TIE

Thiago Alcantara warms up for Liverpool on May 22, 2022© Reuters


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How you voted: Liverpool vs Real Madrid

Liverpool
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Real Madrid
43.7%
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David Alaba celebrates scoring for Real Madrid in October 2021
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