BAYERN | XABI ALONSO
Xabi: "Pep was one of the reasons I went to Bayern"
The former Madrid player spoke about life in the Bundesliga in an extensive interview in the Easter edition of FIFA’s ‘The Weekly’ magazine.
After winning the Champions League with Liverpool then Real Madrid, Xabi Alonso is now hoping to achieve a feat which only Clarence Seedorf has managed – win the trophy with three different clubs. The Bayern Munich midfielder spoke about life in the Bundesliga with FIFA’s ‘The Weekly’ magazine.
Deciding to move on: “After beating Atlético in the Champions League final, it seemed as though the time had come to do something different again. We had managed to win ‘La Décima’, Madrid’s long-awaited tenth European trophy and I thought it was right to try something new with one of the world’s best teams and in one of Europe’s top leagues and I was grateful to Real Madrid for letting me go even though I had a contract that was due to run until 2016.
Guardiola, one of the motives for joining Bayern: “There were many good reasons to move to Bayern and Pep Guardiola was definitely one of them”.
The Guardiola way: “I immediately realised how Guardiola’s unique intensity has enabled him to achieve so much in his relatively short career. To be able to learn even more about football under his guidance is incredibly motivating and offers a great challenge. He’s a rigourous thinker and worker; he’s very analytical, a great tactician and a methodical innovator. Pep understands everything about the game. He doesn’t force his way of thinking on the players; instead, he convinces us about his ideas. If you manage that as a coach, you know that your players will push themselves even further and fight even harder for the team’s shared goals”.
Unflustered style: “The essence of my game has always been the same even though I’ve become a more mature player as my career has developed. I like to act as a kind of relay between attack and defence – right in the centre of the action. I try to keep the play flowing, play plenty of passes and maintain a sense of order on the pitch. I try to open up the spaces my team mates need in attack while in defence, my aim is to close down the areas where our opponents can hurt us.
Bundesliga adaptation: “I’ve been lucky in that, at Liverpool and Real Madrid I managed to slot into the team quickly. I had the luck, and pleasure, of arriving in Munich on 29August 2014 and being in the starting XI the following day in the 1-1 draw to Schalke. I immediately felt at home out on the pitch when I realised that I trusted my new team mates. That’s an important feeling for a player who sees as much as the ball as I do”.
Next objective, a third Champions League: “Winning the Champions League with Bayern would be fantastic but my priority is to continue doing my job on a weekly basis and contribute to the collective success of the team in whatever way I can. But it appeals to me; I have the most amazing memories from the ‘Miracle of Istanbul’ where [Rafa] Benítez led Liverpool back after going 3-0 down, to pull level at 3-3 then into extra-time and penalties which we ended up winning 3-2. I was also delighted with the masterstroke [Carlo] Ancelotti pulled last year when we beat Atlético in extra-time. Unfortunately I was suspended for that match after picking up my third booking in the second leg in Munich. But I still played my part in what, for the time being, is the most recent major success I’ve been able to celebrate in my career.
The managers you’ve worked under:
Benítez was very analitical and had a plan for every match.
Mourinho was tactically shrewd and a great motivator.
Ancelotti, like [Luis] Aragonés and [Vicente] del Bosque, he was someone who has a very approachable and human way of steering teams towards success.
Guardiola as I’ve already said is unbelievable. We’ve mastered at least three different formations under him.
Spanish players in the Bundesliga: “Raúl, who left Real Madrid to join Schalke in 2010, definitely opened the door for the rest of us. I’m sure other Spanish players will follow suit because of the quality of the game and the predominantly sold-out stadiums make it an attractive league to play in”.