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Seven weeks at FCB

Alonso: Learning German is the only tricky bit

“Habts no an Zweifi?” (“Any doubts now?”) stands out in big letters under a muscular Bayern player with the opposition at his feet. It’s a caricature from the oldest surviving FC Bayern document dating back to 1902 - now caught up by reality. Xabi Alonso is standing just a couple of feet away in the club museum, FC Bayern Erlebniswelt. And he hasn’t had a single doubt in his first seven weeks at FC Bayern. Quite the opposite.

The Spaniard has eased into his role in the engine room of the Bayern team. He has played in all competitive games since his arrival at the club at the end of August including eight starts. On average, he has been in possession 160 times per 90 minutes of Bundesliga action - by far the highest figure in the league (Schmelzer 106, Dante 104, J. Boateng 103, Rafinha 99). He set a league record in Cologne with 216 touches of the ball.

Xabi Alonso has already written his name into the history books at FC Bayern. On Tuesday he took a closer look at the history of the Bavarian giants with a visit to the FCB Erlebniswelt. At the same time he answered questions on his initial weeks in Munich. reports the views of the Spanish midfielder:

Xabi Alonso on...

...his Bayern knowledge: “If you love football then you know about the history of Bayern: five Champions League titles, the golden age in the 1970s, and when they won the big Finals - San Siro - and lost - Barcelona. Those are memories from childhood. And, of course, the well-earned triumph at Wembley, the great treble year. A lot of great players have played here and they’re not just big names here at Bayern but also established greats in the history of football. Everybody in the world knows them.”

...his move to Munich: “It wasn’t an easy decision to leave Real Madrid. But I felt it was the right time to take a new direction. I wanted a new challenge and I had the chance to move. To a new league, a new country to another top club. First Liverpool, then Madrid and now Bayern - that’s a wonderful script for my career and that played a big part in my decision.”

...his first weeks at FC Bayern: “I’m very happy with the way it’s all going. I feel at home at the club and in the team. And I can’t really complain about the weather. I’ve got a good relationship with the coach. We talk to each other a lot. I know what he expects from me.”

...his first games for Bayern: “It’s always easier if you join a successful team. I’m the one who has to adapt: to the club, to the team, to the coach. It’s all gone well so far. I feel the confidence my team-mates have in me. They know what I can bring to the team. It’s a winning club, a winning team - that makes it easy for me.”

...his role in the team: “Of course, I want to be an important player in the team. But I think it’s important for a group of German players to have the say in the dressing room. We new players have to pick up a lot from them.”

...the differences in the style of play between Bayern and Real Madrid: “The way Bayern play is different. We’re slower in the build-up play as we look for just the right moment to get a shot on goal. At Madrid, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, it’s all end-to-end and much quicker.”

...his targets at Bayern: “If you play for Bayern you fight for everything. We’re doing well up to now. But we want to keep on improving and finish top at the end of the season in the race for the title.”

...the next Champions League opponent AS Roma: “Roma took a big step forward last season. I played against them for Real Madrid in the pre-season. I also watched Roma’s last game against Juventus. They are fighting for the title in Italy and they want to qualify for the knock-out rounds in the Champions League. The match in Rome will be a very important game for us. We’re in a good position in the group and we want to qualify for the next stage as soon as we can.”

...Pep Guardiola: “He’s very methodical, he analyses every aspect of the games and he has great technical knowledge. He always has new ideas and he constantly wants to improve the way we play. He spends hours preparing a plan for each individual match. I’m learning a lot from him.”

...Arjen Robben: “I think Arjen was the best player at the World Cup. He played at an incredible level last season. He’s a player who can make all the difference when he’s on the ball and you know something cam always happen. We can count ourselves lucky having him in our team. You need players like that.”

...the return of Thiago and Franck Ribéry to the training ground: “That’s great. I hope they get back into the groove quickly. I hope the same happens with Basti [Schweinsteiger] soon. They’re very important players for the team. We need them.” in Munich: “Munich is a beautiful, cosmopolitan city. My family and I really feel at home here. Learning German is the only difficult bit. That will take us a little while.”