Real Madrid take on Juventus in the Champions League final. The game will feature battles across the park but none more intriguing than at its centre where Toni Kroos will face off against Sami Khedira.
The Madrid man is currently a star of world football, every passing day seeing more recognise his talents. Khedira, on the other hand, is a man who has rebuilt his reputation in Turin after a disappointing five-year spell in the Spanish capital.
Both are also big players for Germany, having racked up over 100 international appearances between them, but who is the true King of the German midfield?
“He is the heart of Real Madrid, he makes the game fast pace but can also soothe play.”
Oliver Kahn on Toni Kroos
Comparing them in the stats this season would suggest it is Kroos that is worthy of that crown.
On a per game basis this he comes out on top when it comes to passing, registering more passes, more key passes and a better overall passing accuracy than Khedira.
He also comes out on top in terms of tackles and interceptions per game, although Khedira has scored more goals. Kroos has also registered three times as many assists despite playing three fewer games. In the Champions League, he comes out on top in all but one of seven key areas.
Career wise it’s a similar story; the Real Madrid man has more goals and more assists to his name, although he has played 36 more games.
Of course, it’s not all about stats when it comes to comparing players. So how do the two players stack up when it comes to trophies?
MARCA: Toni Kroos may only be 27 years old, but he has already experienced 18 finals during his career, playing in 13 of them! pic.twitter.com/hoaoHPwCYe
— M•A•J (@UltraSuristic_) 30 May 2017
Well, they’ve both had trophy-laden careers, picking up no fewer than 33 trophies between them. It’s Kroos who comes out on top, though, having racked up 17 of them compared to Khedira’s 16.
There is one huge factor that sets the two players apart, though, and that is their importance to both club and country.
In a Real Madrid side stocked full of talent; Kroos has become the key component, adapting his style perfectly to fit in at the Bernabeu. Without him dominating the midfield, it is easy to argue that their recent success under Zidane simply wouldn’t have happened.
Khedira failed to turn himself into that player during in Spain. Even with Juventus, there’s an argument that he’s not quite a key player. Sure, he’s important, but the Italians could easily replace him should they wish.
The same can be said of both players on the international stage. Take Khedira out of Germany’s team and they would survive, such is their strength in depth. Take out Kroos, however, and it’s a different story. Even the Germans don’t have a player to replace him.
“Kroos is the engine of Real Madrid’s game. The way he plays reminds me a lot of myself.”
And that puts this argument to bed, at least until the showpiece in Cardiff. Better in the stats, more important to both club and country with a bigger trophy haul to boot, Kroos brushes off Khedira comfortably.
Yet, who comes out on top on Saturday could end up changing that. Not only will the winner be key to determining which team raises the trophy this season it may put a final nail in this debate also.
A win for Khedira and he pulls level on trophies with Kroos, giving him a legitimate claim to the title if there ever was one. A win for Kroos, though, and it only further strengthens his current stranglehold on the crown.