Xabi Alonso talks Real Madrid, Messi, Pep's Bayern and Liverpool
In an interview with Ecos del balón, Xabi Alonso explains how Mourinho, Ramos and Real Madrid managed to figure out Messi and life at Liverpool and Bayern Munich.
Xabi Alonso has spoken at length to website Ecos del Balón in which he reviews his many years as a footballer. Along with discussing his beginnings with Real Sociedad, his time in the Premier League and his time under Pep at Bayern Munich, the midfielder reveals secrets about Mourinho's time at Real Madrid and how the learned to cope with Lionel Messi during some of the most riveting and bad-tempered Clásicos in recent memory.
Mourinho after the 5-0 at the Camp Nou
"The famous 5-0 game at the Camp Nou made us change a lot of things. At that moment, we were not at the proper level to compete against Barcelona. The next year though, we knew that we could, against Barca and in general, to have a more dominant style. At the end of 2011, we were flying high and we knew it: in four plays, we were capable of breaking any game open. It was like going to an amusement park."
How did you learn how to defend Messi?
"Messi has caused me a lot of damage, and I have suffered from it a lot. We spoke a lot amongst ourselves with Mourinho and Sergio (Ramos). How do we stop him from hurting us? How do we control him? Messi played and behind him, the inside right, was Xavi. He provoked you. Xavi would show you the ball, I would go, Messi would slip inside behind my back and Sergio had to come out to him and he crushed us. We only started to control Messi when it was just me and not Sergio, when we stopped marking him like that. Xavi would call me, but I stayed with Messi and Sergio didn't have to go, and from that point, we controled it very well. We sacrificed space and the power to win the back in order to prioritize Messi. And when we controlled him in that position, Madrid and Barca became equal."
"At Bayern, we played the 90 minutes in out opponents' half. I didn't cover too much ground, I kept my position and made measured passes. In the face of my last few years, that came in handy. I learned so much. It was very enriching."
In the Premier League, what Liverpool were missing
"We were missing that dofference-maker. We had a really good squad, but when the time came to show that creative factor or the star that could break open everything, we were missing that player. That was it in the Premier League. In the Champions League, we competed like animals."