Created on 31-08-2014 at 12:45 PM
On his second day of work at FC Bayern, Xabi Alonso had a sneak preview of what awaits him in his new homeland. Dressed in traditional leather trousers, shirt and shoes, the 32-year-old new signing posed with his new team-mates at the now established photo shoot with FCB partner Paulaner. “It feels good,” said Alonso after his first appearance in traditional Bavarian costume. “I’ve seen lots of photos and now it’s time for me to try the gear on.”
Alonso showed what he can do in his normal working clothes, the Bayern shirt, as the two-time Champions League winner demonstrated in an impressive first outing in Saturday’s match in Gelsenkirchen. The Basque midfielder was at the centre of the action for Bayern before being substituted on 68 minutes. He had the most touches of the ball (86) and covered the most distance of any Bayern player on the pitch (8.8 kilometres) and he also had a successful pass rate of over 90 percent.
“He’s a very experienced player with a very, very good passing game. He got stuck in straight away,” said skipper Philipp Lahm in praise of the new player at the heart of the Bayern team. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer added: “You could see he wouldn’t need long to fit in. He immediately accepted responsibility. Everyone knows him. So it was easy to play with him. The moves worked right away.”
No time to warm-up
Alonso fitted into the commanding role allocated by coach Pep Guardiola from the kick-off. He gesticulated, directed proceedings and sprayed the ball around like he had been a regular first choice for FCB for months. In fact, the Spanish world and European champion had practically no time to get prepared and the only opportunity to see his new surroundings came in the session the day before the game.
“He hasn’t completed a full training session with us but you could see what he’s capable of and the sort of balls he can play. A great linchpin,” said Alonso’s defensive midfield colleague Sebastian Rode. And Guardiola was “very happy” with his fellow countryman’s debut. “He was outstanding at the start. He can play very, very well in this position. He will obviously help the team with his quality.”
Alonso was also happy with his 68-minute debut. “It was a great experience and I really looked forward to it,” said the 114-time Spain international who indicated to Guardiola he was “immediately ready” to be included in the starting eleven. Alonso is now ready for a new challenge after five years at both Liverpool and Real Madrid. “I’ve followed the Bundesliga for years. The quality here is very high.” Alonso has certainly demonstrated his evident quality too.