Xabi Alonso has for Real Madrid always been a centerpiece in Mourinho’s tactics. In each game you see Madrid play, they play with a ball-winning midfielder besides Xabi, just so that Xabi Alonso can find the space that he needs, to further collect the ball and transport it forward. He is the world number one at engineering this forward momentum in my view. But Xabi has, just today mentioned to the Spanish Press that it’s difficult to always be the one single defensive midfielder, as the other defensive midfielder in the 4-2-3-1 system, most of the time bridges away from position.
“For us to be a very good team, there are for us alternatives that could work out well if we all engage in defence and attack. In midfield it´s about getting involved. Depending on our approch of the game, and the opponents approach, there are some formulas that could work out well”
Often when you see Real Madrid play their game, they have Xabi placed low down the field. I’d say that he even sinks down to a couple of centimetres in front of the central defenders. That’s basically because he is a deep playmaker. But Madrid are so dependent on Xabi; On his passes, that the whole team whirs into motion when Xabi gets the ball to his feet.
Xabi can expertly play a ball across the field, as well as quick, short passes to team mates. He has mastered every kind of passing and his range is basically unrivalled. And there are moments or matches where Xabi seems to be a complete midfielder. His intelligent playing style is really appreciated down the corridors of the Bernabéu. He builds up plays, finishes them with shots from time to time and takes corners and freekicks when Cristiano isn’t up for it.
Last season Mourinho openly came out saying that this team had three untouchables; meaning that these three players will always play matches when available. Iker Casillas, Cristiano Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso are these three players. Casillas stands for the safety within the group, Ronaldo stands for the decisive moments and Xabi Alonso stands for the most important moments on the field because Mourinho has built all his team around Xabi. Many even go as far to say that Xabi makes other players look better than they really are.
“There exists some good communication between us and the coach and the door to the coach is always open. Things are good at all moments.”
Xabi also acts as a father to the team with all his routine, outside of being outstanding on the pitch most of the time. The only real problem that I see, if I have to point one out, is that Alonso sometimes over thinks his plays. He is obsessed with getting the pass forward, perfected, should it be a long or short one, it doesn’t matter and sometimes it’d benefit him more to rely on instinct.
“The important thing is that Sahin recovers soon because his return is being delayed a little longer than expected. We have gotten to know him a little better, we all know that it´s a great player.”
That’s a good point that Xabi himself notes. Nuri Sahin , who was Bundesliga’s best player last season and moved for big money to Madrid, is expected to deliver a lot this season. The signing of Sahin isn’t seen as a future replacement to Xabi, for Xabi will continue a while as he has said previously. But Sahin will hopefully finally fill the gap of the man who is going to play beside Xabi Alonso; a role the club has had numerous problems with filling. But it will also be interesting which role Xabi will have to take on should that happen.
Article courtesy of Joseph Janerique from This is Futbol
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