Euro 2024: Spain’s Joselu aims to ruin friend Kroos’ farewell

DONAUESCHINGEN, Germany — Spain striker Joselu is hoping to bring the curtain down on former Real Madrid teammate Toni Kroos‘ illustrious career in Friday’s Euro 2024 quarterfinal against Germany.

Kroos, 34, retired from club football after winning the Champions League with Madrid last month and will hang up his boots from international football once hosts Germany’s involvement in the tournament ends.

“I love Toni [but] I think Friday is his last game,” Joselu said in a news conference ahead of the game between two of the favourites to lift the trophy in Berlin on June 14.

“We know the quality he has. He is a key player for Germany but we can’t focus only on him. They are a very dangerous team, above all in attack.

“We know that every time they have possession, the ball passes through Toni. We will have to have a special eye on him so that Germany can’t play their game.

“He’s been a good friend and, at Madrid, we spoke a lot and he gave me a lot of advice. He is fundamental for Germany as he has been for Madrid, but we hope it will be his final game and we retire him on Friday.”

Speaking at a news conference later on Wednesday, Kroos replied to Joselu’s comments.

“He says that because he wants to win,” he said. “I understand that he wants Spain to reach the semifinal, but I think Germany have a lot of things to prevent Spain getting through.

“It’s going to be an exciting game. It certainly won’t be boring. It’s funny what Joselu said.”

Joselu, who has just left Madrid for Qatari side Al Gharafa, also highlighted the importance of Spain midfielder Rodri going into the meeting with Germany in Stuttgart.

“Rodri is the best in his position in the world,” he said. “His quality is extremely high. There is no one better in his role. Look at the numbers and you will see that he is fundamental for his club [Manchester City] and for us.

“We have to take care of him. If he doesn’t want to train for four days, then so be it, as long as he is fresh when the games come around.”

Asked to pick between Rodri and Kroos, he responded: “Both of them, Rodri at No. 6 and Toni at No. 8. They are two key players in their positions and they show it every day.

“I saw it with Toni at Madrid and Rodri here with the national team. They are also players that carry weight in the dressing room. It’s a shame we are going to have to say goodbye to Toni [by knocking Germany out], but that’s what I want for Spain.”

Joselu hopes it will not be his last game with the national team. At 34, he only received his first international call up last year, but he hopes coach Luis de la Fuente will continue to select him after his move to Qatar.

“Representing my country is the greatest thing there is,” he said. “I am changing cities and clubs, but for me it’s still a dream to come with Spain.”

Friday’s game at the Stuttgart Arena will be extra special for Joselu, who has played 72 minutes at the tournament so far, because he was born in the German city.

“My mum went to the stadium we’re playing at this week when she lived here,” he said. “She lived here for 22 years. It’s a city that treated my family well.

“Speaking with them, this game brings back many memories. It will be special for them. I was hardly even three years old when we left, but my mum and sister have told me good things about their experience living here.”