Alonso: It was a good start and nothing more

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The international players are away, but there has still been a lot of experience on the training ground at the Säbener Strasse recently: Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso (113 caps each) are still in Munich. The Spanish ace talked about his talents off the pitch, his first year at Bayern and his "big, big goal" in the Champions League in an exclusive interview

Interview with Xabi Alonso: Your Twitter profile says you're very interested in movies and music. What are you listening to at the moment? What are you watching?
Alonso: "Of course I'm interested in a lot of things apart from football. I've always liked to watch movies and TV series. I like to listen to music too, but I haven't been able to attend many concerts here in Munich. I always twitter these things, occasionally share things. It's good to share and to get information as well." Do you play an instrument?
Alonso: (laughs)"No. When I attended school I learned the guitar, but I just don't have the skills." What are your preferences in music? Guitar-based rock?
Alonso: "Yes, guitars and everything." If you compare a football team to a band, what would be you part?
Alonso: "It would be the drums I guess. Giving the rhythm from the back. I don't like to be in front, that's for the singers, for the goalscorers. I'd be more at the back." What about the movie business? Would you rather be an actor or a director?
Alonso: "I see myself as a director, behind the scenes." On the pitch you had a different role last time, you played as a central defender.
Alonso: "Yes. We had to play without Jérôme (Boateng) and Mehdi (Benatia), so the coach decided that I had two positions at once and we talked about what he wanted from me: centre-back when defending, more in front when attacking. I felt good with it, I was aware we were playing against a very good team, but I think we played really well. We won 3-0, but we could have scored more goals. So we're really pleased with our performance." When the coach talked to you about this double role, defending and organising the game, were you surprised?
Alonso: "No. I was ready. You have to be ready for that and know how to play in that position. It's a very dynamic one. It's two positions in one game, so it was different, but I was ready for it and it worked very well." Do you think you'll be doing it more often?
Alonso: "No. Not if all our players are fit -- and that's what we want. We know we have to deal with that sometimes. But that's a question for the coach, not for me. I'm ready to play wherever Pep wants me to play." You have to be very flexible on the pitch. Have you improved in that respect during your year at Bayern?
Alonso: "Yes, of course. Over the years I've learned a lot, especially last year under Pep. He thinks a lot about football, he's very methodical and analytic about it, he considers all the details. That gives you more knowledge about the game, and that's what I want -- to learn. You have to know how your team-mates play, to make everything work in the best possible way." If you look back at the last year, your first at Bayern, under Pep Guardiola, was it intense?
Alonso: "It was intense. I had to get along with the new club and with my new team-mates. But it wasn't difficult, I felt quite good from the first day. It's a very good experience with the team-mates and with Pep because it's all about football, it's about how to improve and think about what we're doing well and what we can improve -- and that's what you want." Have you been thinking or talking about football more than before over the last year?
Alonso: "I've always thought a lot. In Liverpool, in Madrid, and now here, with different profiles, different philosophies in the teams. But I always try to think about how things are going, how things can get better and how to be up to date. Football gets more and more complicated day by day, so you have to prepare better." If you look at the team, what's changed compared to last season? The style of play?
Alonso: "I wouldn't say the team has changed. The basics of the team are there, you just always have to improve, and a few players go, a few come in. But so far the new players have settled down very well, and that's very important. The club has built on an already strong base in the team. We have a lot of German players, they are the base, and then there are foreign players who add to it. We try to embrace what Bayern Munich is about and what it means to play here, we're respecting and admiring that." A player like Douglas Costa has had a big impact in his early games.
Alonso: "Of course, his qualities are very important. As a team we try to be in control and set up a base for those players who have that spark, that great individual talent to score goals. It's teamwork. We try to get the ball to him in the best possible way, for him to score or to pass to Lewy (Robert Lewandowski) or Thomas (Müller), that's our idea. He's been fantastic so far, everyone is really excited about how well he's playing. Arturo (Vidal) too, he has a very good understanding of the dynamics and the systems and the patterns of the team. In six months we'll see how things are going, but at the moment we're happy." You've been in the Bundesliga for a year now. How's it affected your style of play?
Alonso: "The Bundesliga is very intense. You don't have much time to think because the teams are very aggressive, in a good way, very physical. If you're not in top form you have problems. That's a challenge, it's encouraging me to stay competitive and to play at a top level. That's what I experienced last year and that's what I expect for this season too. Last season we won the Bundesliga and we were close to the Champions League final and that's what we want for this year." The Champions League starts again soon. After so many years in the Champions League, do you still feel this sense of anticipation, of something special coming?
Alonso: "Of course. The Champions League is the ultimate competition. The Bundesliga is about being consistent day by day. That's the basics, you get confidence and strength from it. But the Champions League is special, for the top clubs like Bayern. That's where you want to give your best. The group stage is about to start, and we want a good start. It's a long road. The Champions League is special to me, I've won it with Liverpool and with Madrid. I want to win it with Bayern too. That's my big, big goal." As a team, do you feel prepared for the Champions League?
Alonso: "Yes. We have a good team. But you have to deal with many difficulties. Of course I think we're prepared. We're ready and we'll see what happens. It's very difficult, but we have a good squad." What do you expect from the opening match in Piraeus?
Alonso: "They're a good team, it's always difficult to play there. It's always a great chance to play against top teams in the Champions League. We want to start well. We'll have to be ready and can't take anything for granted. We have to go for a win, it's important." You're 33 now. Is that an age when footballers think about what might come next?
Alonso: "Yes, of course. Sooner or later it will come. But I don't know what to do about it so far, I've been playing football for so many years. We'll see." Do you want to stay in football or would you rather play music?
Alonso: (laughs) "Probably football, I'll leave music to others. I'll need some time to rest and then I'll get involved somehow. But whatever I do I want to be fully prepared and to be 100 percent sure that I want to do it. But it doesn't scare me. It will come. There's no hurry. This season is very challenging and motivating to me, that's what's important right now."


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