Toni Kroos has praised N’Golo Kante’s “physical” performance in the first leg draw and admitted Real Madrid struggled against Chelsea’s pace in the early phase of the game.
The Blues still have the away goal advantage after the 1-1 draw in Madrid, but they could have had an easier task in the second leg if they finished the chances they had.
Kante, in particular, was quite busy on the pitch — which should have not surprised anyone at this point — and eventually named man of the match.
Kroos, who had to deal with Kante’s tireless defence in midfield, was clearly impressed.
“He’s a good, physical player,” the Germany international said about Kante in his press conference on Tuesday (via Real Madrid’s official website).
“He can get up and down the pitch.
“We saw his immense quality during the opening 25 or 30 minutes [of the first leg].
“You always have greater control over games when you’ve got the ball and that’s what we saw from Real Madrid in the second half.”
Real Madrid struggled with Chelsea’s pace, says Kroos
The former Bayern Munich star also added that they initially struggled to compete with Chelsea’s pace.
“In the opening 35 minutes of the first leg, we didn’t press their defence well and we were too late in getting at them,” he explained.
“That’s exactly what they wanted with the quality they’ve got up top and they can exploit that along with their pace.
“But we improved after the opening 35 minutes. We dropped deeper and were more compact and that helped us.
“We didn’t create much in the second half, but we’re comfortable when we’re in possession.”
Kroos is not the only Real Madrid player who was impressed by Kante’s performance as Raphael Varane also described his fellow France international’s display in the first leg draw as a “nuisance”.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel will once again rely on Kante on Wednesday, having already said that the midfielder will be key in the second leg.