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Toni Kroos retirement delayed as Germanys adventure continues at Euro 2024


DORTMUND, Germany (AP) — Toni Kroos gets another game before he retires. Germany’s Euro 2024 title challenge looks more real than ever.

One of the most decorated players in modern soccer with six Champions League titles and a World Cup, Kroos wasn’t flashy as Germany beat Denmark 2-0 on Saturday, but he was a calm, assured presence holding the midfield together.

Kroos already won the Champions League with Real Madrid this season. Now he’s three games away from one final trophy and could face his Madrid teammate, Spain’s Dani Carvajal, in his next game.

Some fans already have their eyes on the final in the German capital and sang about heading to Berlin as Germany saw out the win.

Just like another Real Madrid great, Zinedine Zidane in 2006, Kroos is ending his storied career at a major tournament in Germany. He came out of international retirement in February for one last tournament. Each game Germany plays in the knockout stage could be the last of his career.

Germany weathered a thunderstorm, hail and stubborn Danish resistance Saturday to ensure the 34-year-old midfielder will play again. Germany faces either Spain or Georgia in the quarterfinals July 5.

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Zidane reached the 2006 World Cup final with France, only to headbutt an opponent, get a red card and lose to Italy. Kroos and Germany can still dream of a win on home soil and a first major trophy since Kroos and his teammates lifted the 2014 World Cup.

Until the Denmark game, Germany had not won a major-tournament knockout game since Euro 2016. The win continues the sense that Germany is finally turning things around under coach Julian Nagelsmann after years of disappointment. He took over last year with a mission to deliver a host-nation success story at Euro 2024, and has already signed an extension for the 2026 World Cup.

The decision to give Nagelsmann an extension in April came largely on the back of morale-boosting friendly wins over France and the Netherlands. Since then, Germany is unbeaten in six games including pre-tournament friendlies.

“I’m proud of the team,” Nagelsmann said Saturday. “They’re beginning to realize how good they really are.”

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