An amazing XI of players that miss out in Toni Kroos’ best teammates XI: Benzema, Varane…

Toni Kroos has enjoyed a remarkable career and it reflects massively when crafting an XI of his greatest teammates – but there are even more world-class colleagues who missed out.

Back in 2020, the German midfield maestro was tasked with putting together an XI of the best teammates throughout his career until that point, when on the Einfach Mal Luppen podcast

Naturally, that XI was stacked. Including himself in a box midfield alongside Luka Modric, Casemiro and Joshua Kimmich, Kroos chose a forward line of Thomas Muller, Miroslav Klose and Cristiano Ronaldo, while opting for a back three of Stefan Reinartz, Sergio Ramos and Gonzalo Castro, with Manuel Neuer in goal.

Take a breather, because that’s a lot of star power. What’s even more breathtaking are the names left out. We’ve crafted an XI – lining up in a trendy 4-3-3 – of the teammates who missed out, and the results are pretty insane.

GK: Keylor Navas

The obvious choice here would’ve been Thibaut Courtois. But considering Kroos came up with this XI in 2020 and the Belgian has reached elite new heights in the time since, it felt a little unfair.

Navas was superb for Real Madrid as they won three Champions Leagues in a row and will always be an unsung hero – even if a fax machine was the only reason he didn’t end up in Manchester.

RB: Dani Carvajal

Playing over 300 games together at Real Madrid, it was a surprise to see Carvajal missing out on the XI. Perhaps Kroos just doesn’t find full-backs sexy like the football nerds of today.

The Spaniard’s best days have begun to pass since Kroos decided on his XI in 2020, but he was exceptional in his prime and extremely dependable. The game will miss him when he’s gone.

CB: Raphael Varane

Before Varane’s move to Manchester United in 2021, he enjoyed an illustrious career behind Kroos and alongside Ramos sweeping up European honours for fun.

There were a few huge names to miss out at centre-back – Pepe included – but we can half understand why Kroos went with fellow German Reinhart.

It doesn’t do the French World Cup winner justice, however, with him proving pivotal to Real’s Champions League successes.

Real Madrid's French player Zinedine Zidane celebrates after scoring a hat-trick against Sevilla during their Spanish league soccer match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2006.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name the 15 French players to represent Real Madrid since 1990?

CB: David Alaba

Playing together at two clubs, Alaba somehow flew under Kroos’ radar, but perhaps would be able to tempt him a little more in an updated XI, given he joined Real in 2021.

Alaba has quietly been operating as one of the best in the world for a long time and can quite scarily maintain that level across several positions.

LB: Marcelo

Another victim of the German’s strange desire to play three at the back and a box midfield, Marcelo is genuinely one of the greatest full-backs the game will see.

Together, he and Kroos won three La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues, among other honours and countless hours of immaculate football.

CM: Sami Khedira

On the surface it feels pretty harsh for Kroos to snub Khedira, having played with him both at Real Madrid (albeit for one season only) and with the German national team, but considering the calibre of midfielder he’s up against, you can see why.

He might not be as sexy as Luka Modric or even Kroos himself, but Khedira was vastly underrated in his prime, winning 77 caps for Die Mannschaft.

CM: Bastian Schweinsteiger

Another huge name who somehow didn’t make the cut, Kroos shared the pitch with Schweinsteiger for club and country with Bayern Munich and Germany.

Schweinsteiger spent 17 seasons with Bayern before leaving in the same summer as Kroos – instead joining Manchester United – and is the fourth-most capped German player of all time, thus his absence is a tad surprising.

Together at Bayern, the duo lifted three Bundesliga, three DfB-Pokal and the Champions League in 2013. Casemiro and Cristiano Ronaldo together at Manchester United

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CM: Isco

We probably could’ve selected an all-German midfield and included Mesut Ozil, but for the sake of balance, we’ve gone for Isco. Not a bad choice to be able to make.

It felt like Isco was constantly having to prove the doubters wrong after signing for Los Blancos in 2013, which in turn made plenty of us take him for granted – especially at his scintillating best.

He left in 2022 having lifted 19 major trophies with the club, often playing ahead or to the side of Kroos. Two majestic ballers.

RW: Arjen Robben

They simply don’t come like Robben anymore. A real throwback winger, watching him tear defenders apart on a Champions League night was a privilege.

Kroos didn’t pick the Dutch winger – surprisingly – nor did he pick Gareth Bale, which shows the competition for the spot. He instead found a way to work Thomas Muller into the side.

We could’ve gone with Bale, but that cut-in-and-shoot is just too delightful not to pick. A dying breed.

ST: Karim Benzema

It’s not much of a surprise that Kroos opted for Klose up top considering his scoring exploits for the German national team, but in doing so, he’s left a truly elite centre forward for us to pick in Benzema.

Many will argue that the Frenchman didn’t reach truly elite status until after 2020 in carrying Real Madrid to the Champions League in 2022, but that simply isn’t true.

Benzema spent years doing the dirty work for Bale and Ronaldo and was world-class long before his Ballon d’Or win. The trophies back it up, as do the 353 goals in Real Madrid colours.

LW: Franck Ribery

You can’t have Robben without having this man on the other side. What a truly absurd front-line.

Again playing together at Bayern Munich, Ribery was instrumental in the club winning the Champions League in 2013 and stuck around after Kroos left, right up until 2019.

Perhaps Kroos would’ve been forced to pick the Frenchman had he pipped Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to the Ballon d’Or in 2013.

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