A guest at one of UEFA’s Nyon conferences on Wednesday, Xabi Alonso took time out to wax lyrical about how impressed he has been with Real Madridrecently.
In addition, he discussed Spanish football, his life following retirement and other aspects of the modern game.
The Spaniard was in attendance to give his views as a former professional on a variety of topics which are up for debate in the game today, including VAR.
What issues were addressed?
“Issues relating to the game, such as where football is going, what can be introduced to the game and how it will affect things. We are asked our opinion on many subjects such as substitutions, VAR… many things.”
If it was Barcelona before in terms of leading the way, do you think that Real Madrid are the reference point now for world football?
“Definitely. Of course, they are leading the way for the rest of the world. If we look at how they have played in the last four years and how the team looks, they are certainly the reference points in every way, both in Europe and throughout the world. You never know how far you can go but things appear to be very good. Zinedine Zidane has earned his place on great merit with how he has been able to manage everything. He won LaLiga which the club hadn’t did recently and deserved to do it. Their trajectory is very good.”
Cycles are naturally compared and there is talk about the six European Cups of the past…
“They have won three out of four… which isn’t bad. The whole Madridismo community is very excited and the feeling is that they can achieve even more.”
Is it possible to win six titles in one season?
“It is complicated but not impossible. It can be done.”
But then there comes a draw and doubts arrive and [Gareth] Bale and [Karim] Benzema are whistled…
“They are players of the highest level and their ability isn’t in doubt. The season is very long. We’re only on the second day. I have no doubt about Karim, Gareth or any other player because they are all going to be important.”
How long can they continue do dominate?
“The others will try to close the gap but Real Madrid are at a higher level than the rest at the moment and with young people, they won’t stop getting better.”
Do you follow the team day to day?
“Of course I do.”
What do you think of the explosion of Marco Asensio?
“He is handling it all naturally. Sergio and the rest of the guys are going to help him a lot. Little by little they will give him a more important role. It takes time to grow and continue your growth. Every day is important but he is improving by leaps and bounds.”
We are even talking about the Ballon d’Or…
“There are debates that aren’t something to worry much about.”
Do you see yourself as a coach in the near future?
“For now, I’m here, learning, looking at football from a distance and taking my time.”
What plans are in your head for your future?
“I’ll see. Now, I’m taking time away from the game, although some day I will become a coach and then we will see where I end up.”
What would you think about being coach at Real Sociedad?
“It would be phenomenal. The other day I was at Anoeta and the truth is that they have a way of playing under Eusebio and they all understand what they are doing very well. They have a very clear idea about how they want to play and look good.”
Do you think you will come out of retirement soon after seeing [David] Villa again with the national team?
“No no. First of all, I’m very happy for Guaje. The desire he had to return was tremendous and he deserves it. My departure was a very conscious one, both for the national team and football. You have to know when it is the time to say goodbye.”
Is there a shortage of players if we are seeing Villa return after three years?
“Looking at the squad that is there, I don’t think so. The game against Italy will be tough because it is a very competitive squad, as we seen in the last European Championship.”