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Xabi Alonso has made a seamless transition from box-to-box midfielder to thoughtful, insightful linchpin. Here, he sheds light on his move from Spain to Germany.
What was your main motivation to join FC Bayern München?
Xabi Alonso: I felt I needed a new step in my career, a new challenge, and there was no better place to come. I had played for my home-town team Real Sociedad, for Liverpool, for Real Madrid, and it was the best place to come: a new country, a new league and a top club in the world [at which] to be fighting for trophies. So far, so good – I feel I have the confidence of the manager and my team-mates.
Are you enjoying Munich?
Alonso: Yes, of course – it's a fantastic city and a great place to live. So far, my family and I are really enjoying it. We have settled in well.
How good is your German?
Alonso: It is a hard language, but day by day I am learning a little bit. But it is still early days to do this [interview in German]. We will leave that for the next one.
Sometimes players need time to settle at a club, but you look as if you have been here for ten years.
Alonso: From the first minute I felt good; from my first game against Schalke I've been playing in that position and feeling really comfortable with my team-mates. When you're coming into a winning team, it's always easier to perform, and I've had help from many people to perform this way.
The squad is very young. Will your experience be important?
Alonso: It's young [in terms of] age but not experience. These good young players have had great experiences and great games for the last few years. Of course my task will be to have that composure, to have that maturity in my game, but the mix is quite good between the youngsters and the players that have played for longer. The manager is dealing with that very well.
How has your role in midfield changed as your career has progressed?
Alonso: With the years you try to run less, to think more, and try to be involved in the best way possible, to be a link between the defence and the attack – right or left. With the years you try to have more composure, to read the game and to have a better understanding.
What have you learned working under Josep Guardiola so far?
Alonso: To be on your toes. He tries to improve in each training session. For every game, he tries to bring new things to the team, to add new concepts. That makes it special, because even [having played] for years with different managers, you feel he brings something different to the team.
What differences have you noticed between German and Spanish football?
Alonso: The Bundesliga is much quicker; it's more physical than the Liga, which is more technical. I've said a few times the Bundesliga is closer to the Premier League than the Liga. But the atmosphere and the stadiums are fantastic, and that plays a big role in how attractive it is for a player.
What is the team's target in the UEFA Champions League?
Alonso: Last year Bayern were really close to getting to the final. In recent years they have had great runs and hopefully this will be another great year. But the expectations are to win it; you know you are coming into a club with the highest expectations. It's a great responsibility, a great pressure for us.
You won this competition with Liverpool FC and Real Madrid CF. Is your dream to add Bayern to that list?
Alonso: Absolutely. It's always special, and it would be great to be part of that achievement with FC Bayern: for the club and for myself, it would be fantastic.
Alonso in numbers
388 passes attempted in the first four matchdays – more than any other player in the competition.
216 touches in one match against 1. FC Köln in September – a Bundesliga record.
135 the most passes Alonso has ever completed in a UEFA Champions League match – away to PFC CSKA Moskva this term.
95 passes completed away to AS Roma on matchday three, more than Francesco Totti, Ashley Cole, Juan Manuel Iturbe, Kostas Manolas and Vasilis Torosidis combined.
1,474 passes completed by Alonso and Spain midfield partners Sergio Busquets and Xavi Hernández at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. No other players completed more passes than any of the trio.
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