Xabi Alonso: A European Liability

After beating Hamburg 8-0, Bayern Munich were eager to show the same menace away from home when they traveled to Paderborn grabbing half a dozen of goals as well as a clean sheet. Former Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski scored a first-half brace to confirm Bayern’s position as the the controllers of the match before Arjen Robben added a brace of his own with each of Franck Ribery and Mitchell Weiser getting their names on the scoresheet. It wasn’t a matter of whether Pep Guardiola’s men will win or not but rather how many goals will they score.

arsenal

Despite Bayern’s extraordinary results, Wolfsburg are still within sight. Dutch striker Bas Dost scored a double for the second-placed team to grant them a 2-1 win over Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga to keep a difference of eight points between them and leaders Bayern Munich. With 12 rounds of football to go an eight point difference could be deemed as too small but when it comes to Germany, the league-leaders can rest assured that their domestic aspirations are achievable without the need of committing all their energy.

On the European level, Bayern Munich failed to score a goal in their first leg in Ukraine against Shakhtar Donetsk, they settled for a goalless draw, something not bad at all, they need to grab a win at home though they have to do it without the services of Xabi Alonso who was sent off in Ukraine. While Xabi has been a major protagonist in their league campaign, his suspension could be a blessing in disguise ahead of the second leg. Their next game is a make-it-or-break-it type of game. They can’t afford a loss, not even a draw with goals. On the other hand, they can afford to drop points twice or even thrice in the Bundesliga and they would still be leading the table. The contrast between the two competitions goes even beyond that, their Champions League opponents are only going to get tougher from a round to the other, 14 goals in two matches isn’t a possibility in the knock-out round, so they have to be cautious in their next 90 minutes of Champions League football and every single match in the competition.

arsenal

Xabi Alonso is still one of the best passers of the ball, but his presence on the field for Bayern Munich in the Champions League means Bayern have two players doing the same role, Guardiola should rather stick to utilizing only Bastian Schweinsteiger in the upcoming European games. David Alaba is fairly young, pep will count on him in the next match against Shakhtar but he needs to make sure that if Bayern go through, Alaba is a pillar in his side especially when the opponents have the ball, Munich can’t afford to have a slow player like Xabi run after players like Gareth Bale and Lionel Messi. In the Champions League, Bayern won’t be able to dominate and dictate play as much as they can in the Bundesliga which means Alonso’s ability to control the tempo in the game won’t be helpful against bigger clubs. His mistake against Manchester City in the group stage proves that he’s not Bayern’s best option as a defensive midfielder, if Guardiola wants to win with Bayern, he should concentrate on defending as well as attacking because containing big clubs like Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona isn’t possible without a versatile midfield ready to regain possession.

Bayern’s only defense so far has been possession and although they often scored, they were also too easily torn apart by Wolfsburg and Manchester City. Guardiola needs to adopt different methods when it comes to Europe because any mistake will prove costly and mistakes are more likely to happen when Bayern are facing the world’s best clubs. Xabi Alonso is one of the world’s best midfielders, he can do quite great in the Bundesliga, probably better than any other midfielder but at the age of 33, he needs to accept a smaller role on the European level.

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