Xabi Alonso at France Football
Here are some excerpts from Xabi’s recent interview with France Football. Hopefully nothing got lost in translation, as it’s a translation from Spanish to English, courtesy of AS which translated it from French to Spanish.
Many footballers are moving from Spain to England, but you went the other way…
Yes, in 2009, and I think it was a good choice. After five years in Liverpool, I needed a change. And what better way was there to do it than going to Real Madrid, the greatest and most demanding club there is. The moment had come to take this opportunity. The day-to-day in Madrid is very intense and tougher than at any other team. What this club asks for is to win, win and still win, and while playing well. Liverpool won five European Cups, but it’s not the same. There, the day-to-day is more relaxed, easier. In Madrid, there are always pressure and demands. I wanted to see if I would be able to live up to this challenge.
Why did you wait so long to sign for two more years with Madrid?
I wanted to ensure that I was good physically. During the last season, a groin injury really bothered me a lot. From January to May 2013, I wasn’t the same on the field, I wasn’t playing at my level. I was operated on in June and I didn’t want to renew my contract while I wasn’t playing and at the level I should have been at. It wasn’t the easiest road to choose. It wasn’t an issue of money or of desire. I asked myself, “are you willing to spend two more years here?” When the answer was yes, it was easy to sign the contract renewal.
It was said that you wanted to go play in the U.S….
I don’t rule that out in the future. We’ll see in two years’ time how I feel. I don’t rule anything out, not Europe, not Real Sociedad, not staying more time in Madrid if, at the end of the new contract, I’m still feeling good physically. What I am sure of is that I will never be shuffling around on a field. It’s a matter of honor and dignity.
If you need to tell Cristiano Ronaldo to defend, do you do it?
Of course. I speak a lot with those who play in front of me and those who play behind me. That’s my job as a midfielder. From my position, I see the game well and sometimes I tell him, “Crís, help us out.” And I do it naturally, straightforwardly. It’s the same thing as a defender telling me, “Xabi, you need to do this!” For a younger player, it would be more difficult to say that, but me, I have experience.
Does Benzema defend as well?
Karim contributes a lot in all aspects. He controls the ball very well, he knows how to associate with his teammates and he scores many goals. He’s a delightful player and very smooth in all that he does. And he’s very intelligent with his movements.
I like Varane a lot! Rafa has… how to say it? An incredible ease in the way he does things, to win battles, to anticipate, as if it took no effort at all. It’s all more natural and simple when he plays. He’s very strong tactically, technically and physically. He always wins the ball very cleanly. Watching him play is a pleasure.
What has Ancelotti brought to Real Madrid?
He has a personality that allows him to manage the team with talent and speak easily with the players. He combines all this with a great authority. When he has to make demands, he does. Ancelotti is much more than the image of him as a calm man. I can assure you that whoever doesn’t give 100 percent is punished by the coach. However, with him, the atmosphere is pleasant. The footballer is conscious of his responsibilities, but, at the same time, feels the confidence of the coach.
I’ll have the excerpts where he talks about La Roja on the other blog shortly, if you’re interested!