Marcos Alonso: "Real Madrid? At this stage there are no favourites"
Marcos Alonso chatted to AS while on duty with the Spain squad and looked ahead to next month's Champions League tie between Chelsea and Real Madrid.
Marcos Alonso came through the youth teams at Real Madrid. From Castilla, he emigrated to England to join Bolton then moved to Italy, enjoying a breakout year at Fiorentina before spending a year on loan with Sunderland. He swapped Florence for London in August 2016. Chelsea brought him back to the UK on a reported 25 million euro deal. In England, he is considered one of the best full-backs in the Premier League. Pleasant and chatty, and always with a smile, Marcos Alonso took time out to attend AS during a break in his international commitments with Spain. He gave us his thoughts on the forthcoming Champions League quarter final meeting with Real Madrid.
Luis Enrique said after announcing his previous squad list that he had to make an unfair decision by leaving you out. Is it that difficult to make the Spain squad list?
It certainly is! It's Spain's senior squad and I have to be focused on what I can do, which is making sure I am ready if the boss calls me. At the end of the day, it's the coach who decides who is in the list.
There are eight months to go before the World Cup. You are 31 and this could one of you last chances to be part of the Spain squad at a major tournament...
Every player is keen to give everything they have to be able to be with their national team - whatever the occasion. That's even more the case with a World Cup on the horizon. I always try to give the best I have to give and continue improving so that the national team continues to call me up.
Where do you feel most comfortable - as an attacking full-back in a five-man defence or playing full-back in a flat back four?
When I started playing with three centre-backs, there were doubts about whether I could fit in to that system. But now, after playing there for so long, it's hard to see myself reverting back to a back four. In the end, the system is what matters least, what's important is how you play. With the quality we have in the national team, playing is a real pleasure and that makes everything easier. We showed that in the Final Four of the Nations League where the team put in two great performances.
If you were right-footed, playing at right-back, your place at the World Cup would practically be guaranteed.
You never know. It's true that when I first came into the side there was a lack of left-backs and now we are spoiled for choice. But that's a good thing for Spain.
Your strong point is that you are tall, when Spanish players are generally shorter...
I have a different kind of player in that sense. The most important thing is having enthusiasm to be here and help the team.
How is the situation at Chelsea? Has what happened to Abramovich affected the players? Is it true that you have to pay travel expenses for away games?
No, for the time being nothing has really happened. A lot has been said, it looks like they will be forced to sell the club. But that is something which we have no control over. We have to focus on what we need to do - we have shown we can do that, by winning our last six matches; that is something which can have some control over and we just hope that there is a soluction to everything else as soon as posible.
Could the uncertainty have an affect on the team out on the pitch?
So far it hasn't. I think it will all be sorted out very soon, propbably when the club is sold. We are not that up-to-date with what's going on but in the day-to-day, nothing's changed.
Were you surprised by Real Madrid beating PSG in the previous round?
Even bore the tie, we knew that Madrid is a very dangerous side. However much PSG might have dominated the tie, you can never write off Madrid. Obviously, it's always complicated to play against Real Madrid - regardless of what moment they are in and especially in a competition like the Champions League.
They've drawn Chelsea in the next round! How do you see the tie going?
We showed what we are capable of last season. It's a new season, a different moment, but we will be up against one of the big sides and we'll do everything we can to be in the sem-finals.
Who are favourites?
I don't there are any favourites. At this stage of the competition, every team you meet is going to be difficult - it'll be a great tie and a very diffiuclt one, I'm sure.
Would you say it's 50-50 then?
Let's leave it there, a 50 per cent for both teams.
What qualities made Chelsea champions of Europe last season?
We had a very balanced side. In close, evenly-fought ties, small details make all the difference. We were a team in every sense of the word. We defended well, we were an uncomfortable side to play against, all eleven players defended and small details made the difference. When you reach this stage of the Champions League, every game is close and depends on the smallest of details.
What is Tüchel like to work with?
Since the day he arrived, the team has taken a leap tactically when it comes to defending. We're all very happy with him.
Does he prepare game in detail?
Yes. We always analyse our opponents. But it's more important what we do. We always prepare for games and try to improve in attack and defence.
Would you like to play in LaLiga one day?
I'd love to play in LaLiga, all of my life I have have wanted to be here playing in Spain, but die to circumstances, it hasn't worked out that way and much of it didn't depend on me. At the moment, I am focusing only on this season and what has to be will be.
Due to your family connections, you could play for Madrid, Atleti or Barça...
Yes, sure, I have family links on every side...
Which would you prefer: Madrid, Atleti or Barça?
Right now, Chelsea. I am under contract for this season and the next
It's amazing that three genrations from the same family - grandfather, father and grandson have all been nternationals with Spain.
To be honest, it isn't something which I think too much about. Maybe, when I have a son, I'll tell you about it...