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Kroos opens up on the ‘undeniable’ pressure Germany face ahead of Euros opener

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GERMANY’S most decorated footballer Toni Kroos hailed Steve Clarke’s Scotland after a briefing from Real Madrid team-mates.

But he’s also backing a 50,000-plus home support to drown out the Tartan Army inside the Munich Football Arena on Friday night.

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Kroos understands facing Germany won’t be a walkoverCredit: Getty
SunSport's very own Derek McGregor with Germany's main man

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SunSport’s very own Derek McGregor with Germany’s main man

World Cup-winner Kroos — who claimed a SIXTH Champions League winners medal with Real Madrid at Wembley — is approaching a career swansong with these Euros on home soil.

He’s only 34, yet this majestic midfielder is adamant he’s hanging up his boots following this tournament.

Kroos has won an incredible 34 major honours in a stellar 17-year career with Madrid and Bayern Munich.

But he has no desire to play for any other club after a trophy-laden decade at the Bernabeu.

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And after being lured out of international retirement by Julian Nagelsmann to play in the Euros, the man born in the old East Germany is fired up to go out on an even bigger high.

Kroos originally retired from international action the day after Germany’s dismal last-16 exit to England in the last Euros finals in 2021 — then returned in March this year.

Now he’s desperate to lead his nation to a first Euros crown since 1996 in England.

But Kroos is wary of Clarke’s underdogs.

He said: “We have dealt with Scotland before. We know what kind of opponents are waiting for us.

“They are difficult to play against.

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“I talked to some Spanish team-mates at Real Madrid.

“They met Scotland in qualifying and they said they are a tough team to play against, very strong, quick on the counter-attack and good in defence.

“Scotland are definitely the kind of opponents Germany has had difficulty playing against.

“So we don’t really need to be woken up about what they are like.”

Kroos was granted time off following Real’s June 1 victory over Borussia Dortmund, before reporting for his nation.

And he’s happy to wait a little bit longer to face the Scots.

Kroos added: “I don’t want to play Scotland tomorrow. I would quite like some more days to recover!

“We have had some meetings, and everyone in the team is desperate for the tournament to start, though.”

On the Tartan Army — with 200,000 Scots expected to descend on Germany over the next few days, ticket or not — Kroos acknowledged the role they will play with a grin.

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He said: “We are aware the Tartan Army is out to celebrate, win or lose.

“But I do not think they will throw our players off balance in terms of the noise they make.

“I would also hope that with 50,000 of our fans in the stadium they will be able to make more noise.”

SunSport was the only Scottish newspaper present for Kroos’ press conference, and asked the superstar how important Friday night’s match was for him personally and the country.

Surprisingly, within his answer there was even mention of the possibility of losing.

Kroos said: “Now I am focused on Euro 2024 and Scotland is in our minds.

“Generally speaking, pressure is on at every tournament.

“But this one being at home, you get direct feedback at your front door, negatively and positively speaking.

“Germany is ready and open-hearted for any tournament, so we feel a major responsibility for the country.

“We know what is at stake but it is not just a burden, it’s also an honour. You don’t know how many players get to play on home turf.

“Pressure is undeniable, but at the same time you must try to soak it up and enjoy the pressure you are under.

“But you must realise it is only football.

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“Whatever we want to do, we want to influence morale in the country in every way.

“We want to give a lot back to what they have given us.

“I hope we will be in a position to enjoy the tournament and not just suffer.

“If you look at the quality in our squad, the sheer options and possibilities we have, that has shown through more than in 2022 — which was a disastrous year for German football.

“There is always room for improvement, but there is no better opportunity than this for a tournament.

“Our mission is to fulfil our potential now.

“We have had uplifting results earlier this year, but we must stay grounded. We must know where we stand.

“The first match of any tournament is super-important and might even be decisive.

“This has been shown in the last three tournaments where Germany has taken part.

“Even if we lose it still means we have plenty of opportunities to make things better and turn things around.

“But in terms of general mood in the country, it is VITAL we are successful.”

Meanwhile, Kroos laughed off Monday’s training ground bust-up between Niclas Fullkrug and Antonio Rudiger — and insisted it was good to see.

He said: “I think that says everything. These are quite normal situations, it is a healthy thing.”

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But Germany head coach Nagelsmann has had to rule out Bayern Munich’s Aleksandar Pavlovic, 20, for Friday’s opener due to an ongoing tonsilitis infection.

However, the youngster is expected to return for the other group games against Hungary and Switzerland.

Keep up to date with ALL the latest news and transfers at the Scottish Sun football page

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