Germany head coach Joachim Low has batted away talk of “world-class” Toni Kroos retiring from international football after this year’s European Championship.
Real Madrid midfielder Kroos withdrew from the Germany squad at the start of last week, ahead of their opening World Cup qualifying fixtures.
Low’s side claimed maximum points from their first two Group J games against Iceland and Romania and will expect to make it a hat-trick of triumphs when North Macedonia visit Duisburg on Wednesday.
Kroos is Die Mannschaft’s most-capped active player – and joint 10th overall – having featured 101 times since his Germany debut in 2010.
His last appearance was in November’s humiliating 6-0 Nations League defeat to Spain, although he did emerge with some credit.
Kroos enjoyed a pass completion rate of 97.7 per cent – the highest of any starting player across both sides – while no German starter lost possession fewer times than him (four).
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) March 29, 2021
Reports have circulated recently that 31-year-old Kroos is ready to call time on his international career after the rearranged Euro 2020 finals, but Low is not ready to write off the midfielder just yet.
“It’s a media issue,” Low told a media conference. “Toni is a world-class player with an enormous wealth of experience. We won’t start to doubt his quality now.”
Low also hailed the “step forward” made by Leroy Sane over the past week.
The Bayern Munich forward made three key passes against Romania – matched only by Serge Gnabry for Germany – and won 11 of his 12 duels.
Low was particularly impressed with the 25-year-old’s defensive contributions.
“In the last two games Leroy had extremely good moments in defence,” Low said. “He won four or five balls against Romania and some against Iceland.
“You haven’t seen that before. He made a clear step forward.”
Germany are red-hot favourites to progress to Qatar 2022 as Group J winners, but Low has warned his players against complacency when they host North Macedonia.
“I have the feeling that North Macedonia have rolled up their sleeves”, said Low, who will step down from his position at the end of Euro 2020. “They are no worse than Romania. It will be a real show of strength.
“We’re not taking anything for granted. North Macedonia are shrewd opponents. It will be another tricky task to come away with all three points.”