When you talk midfield and Spain in the same sentence, you can’t help but think about the mesmerising Xavi-Iniesta duo. There are hundreds of articles on how the iconic duo shaped Barcelona’s relatively recent resurgence in world football. In their shadows, there is one man who is wherever he played, be it Liverpool, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. So what exactly was great about this man?often forgotten despite being one of the best of his time. A player who can pick a 60-yard pass with pinpoint perfection, who can guard your defence and start your attacks, the man who won’t see play anymore after this season, the one and only, Xabi Alonso. Last night, the midfielder announced his retirement from football post this season. Despite being in the same league as Pirlo and Xavi, Alonso was never given the credit he deserved. He was without a doubt a first team pick. Here is a video highlighting his beautiful game.
His ability to orchestrate attacks from the deep lying midfield:
Xabi Alonso was one of those footballers who brought a direct approach to Liverpool’s gameplay and it worked wonders for the club. The night in Istanbul, 2005 was probably one of the most crucial of his displays. With Milan leading 3-0 at the half time, Xabi and Gerrard gave a brilliant midfield in the half role in a 3-5-2. Xabi is a player whose biggest trait was to evolve a move into an attack with a quick forward pass. He would receive the ball from the defender and give a quick pass to the wingers or the attacking players so as to move the entire team forward for an attempt at goal. His direct approach to the game ensured the team played as forward as possible rather than moving the ball sideways. That gave them more opportunities at goal as seen in the clubs he played for.
His long balls to players making a run:
Xabi Alonso’s was arguably the best player to go to when a long ball had to be played to a winger making a run. Especially evident in his tenure at Real Madrid, there have been multiple times when a quick change of flanks resulted in a goal. Xabi would often pick a charging Ronaldo from the left wing, who would have very little to do once he received the balls. In his own half, he would never clear the ball blindly, but rather play a long ball to the players approaching the goal for a quick counter attack.
Read: Dependence on Messi : Barcelona’s reason for downfall in future?
His interception abilities:
His defensive game was a little weak, but Xabi was a player who would intercept attacks before they could turn into a lethal move. His positioning was perfect, especially the partnership with players like Gerrard, Khedira, Vidal and Xavi. Hence, he was an indispensable member of any squad he was a part of.
His long shots and eye for the goal:
Xabi Alonso was also a midfielder who had the eye for a goal. He had a commendable shot power with classy placement. As mentioned before, he acted as a pivot for most of the attacks, and also never held back if he had a clear shot. He is a rare gem, who is an inspiration to many upcoming generations for the sheer complete nature of his game-play.
Xabi is indeed one of the game’s greats, but may not ever be given the same place among the legends that he deserves. The man will be remembered for his humility and down to earth lifestyle. He will be missed by the true lovers of the game. We wish him and his family all the best for all their future endeavours.