What would be the perfect combination to make the ultimate footballer? For starters you’d probably have Leo Messi’s balance combined with Ronaldo’s skill and power. To add to that you might want Steven Gerrard’s determination with Frank Lampard’s shooting ability. To complete the mould, how about passing? Step forward Xabi Alonso. The perfect footballer? Quite possibly!
The previous 6 months have seen a massive change in fortunes of two clubs. On one hand you have Liverpool who came so close to claiming the Premier League title last season yet are distinctly out of sorts this season. On the other hand you have Real Madrid. The Spanish giants endured the embarrassment of watching arch-rivals Barcelona mop up a record breaking six titles last season but are currently just two points off the top of La Liga and looking very strong. And the link between the two? Xabi Alonso.
At Real, the second coming of Florentino Perez saw a spending spree like no other. In came Kaka, Ronaldo, Benzema, Raul Albiol and Alonso. To the rest of Europe, Ronaldo and Kaka were Real’s major signings. In Spain, the signing of Alonso was recognised as the key to the future of Los Galacticos mkII. The heart of the new team if you like.
Alonso was signed with one purpose. To help the front men flourish. With the quartet mentioned above scoring 34 of the club’s 52 goals so far this season, it seems the key is beginning to unlock the door to success.
In Alonso, Real have a player who can pin-point a pass better than a Navy submarine. His work-rate is second to none and combined with his side-kick, Lassana Diarra, Los Blancos have a midfield partnership to rival any in the World. What Alonso lacks in pace and bite, Diarra makes up for, allowing the Spanish maestro to dictate the game from the middle.
In honesty, Real Madrid had never quite recovered from the sale of Claude Makelele. A player who was so good in the holding role that it became more known, simply as, ‘the Makelele role’. Ironically it was Perez who, in his previous stint, sanctioned the sale of the French international. A sale that saw the demise of the great club in recent years.
Not only does Perez demand success, he demands it with style. Just ask Fabio Capello, the England manager was sacked despite guiding the team to the La Liga title. Well, they say you learn from your mistakes and Perez has seemingly taken that on-board as, along with the signings of attacking stars, he purchased back-up in the form of Alonso. A defensive player who makes football look like an art form. A perfect combination to please the Madrid faithful as well as El Presidente himself.
This season Real have looked good. Despite some stuttering performances, they have shown promise and Ronaldo’s two goals this weekend, both made by Kaka, will have been a worrying sight for Europe’s elite.
With Alonso pulling the strings, the Real Madrid band-wagon may be picking up speed in time to bulldozer its way through to the Champions League Final. Irony, coincidence or fate, you name it. If Real make the final, at their very own Bernabeu Stadium, you can be sure Alonso will be one of the first names on the team sheet.