The signing of Xabi Alonso (Tolosa, Gipuzkoa, 1981) by the Bayer Leverkusen has raised great expectations in the Bundesliga, where he was as a player and to which he has now returned as a coach. For this reason, the international television channel ‘Deutsche Welle’ is preparing a report on his roots and has sent Spain an editor to interview different people who lived closely the ‘birth’ of the Xabi Alonso footballer and followed a path that precisely ended in Germanybecause the man from Tolosa decided to hang his boots on the almighty Bayern Munich.

In addition to knowing some origins that, football-wise, are found in the San Sebastian beach of the shell when the tide goes out, the objective of ‘Deutsche Welle’ is to know how Alonso’s coach is taking his first steps and, something much more complex, to analyze how his evolution could be. In this sense, and because of the fact that comparisons are hateful, the figure of a contemporary of Xabi inevitably emerges, of the same name, although written with a v, and his teammate in the National Team that gave Spanish football its moments of greatest glory after winning a world and two European Championships.

Photo: The Catalan coach applauds the fans after being eliminated.  (EFE/Alejandro Garcia)
The harsh reality of Barça in the Champions League: Xavi is singled out and Laporta, a slave to his words

Alberto Ortega. Barcelona

Obviously, we are referring to Xavi Hernandez (Terrassa, Barcelona, ​​1980), the current coach of the FC Barcelona, a position he reached less than a year ago, specifically on November 5, 2021, and in which to date he has gone from defeat to defeat. In January, he was eliminated by the real Madrid in the semifinals of the Arabian Super Cup and, a week later, of the Cup for the Athletic Bilbao. In the Champions League did not pass the group stage and in the Europe League It didn’t go past quarters. come second in The league allowed him to return this season to the Championsalthough again it has fallen back in the first phase.

“If at the end of the year things don’t work out, I’ll be the first one I see”, said Xavi after the elimination of FC Barcelona from the highest continental competition. “It has been a good chestnut, but I already said that we are a team under construction and we still had to grow on chestnuts“, added the Catalan, who, after playing 17 seasons in the Barça team, decided to go to a country like qatarwhere he not only ended his career as a soccer player Al Sadd, but he started that of coach. He did it in a club and a competition with a football level that is far from what is required of Barça, hence the jump was perhaps precipitous, especially since the Barça to which he has returned has little or nothing to do with the one he lived through. And on top of that he has done it with a team to walk around the house. With a second, his brother Oscar, without any training; a third coach, Sergio Cheerfulwho was a scout for olot; and a physical trainer, Ivan Torreswho worked in the Royal Avila.

Xabi, during the Champions League match at the Metropolitan. (EFE/Juanjo Martin)

Two very different career starts

And this is where the two big differences between Xavi and Xabi lie. The first is that Alonso has played in three of the four most important leagues in Europe, always at the highest level. He came out of the quarry Real societyto whose first team he arrived after a brief stint at Eibar, and was about to win the League. He decided to go to Liverpoolwhere he learned and ended up fed up with Rafa Benitez. He returned to Spain to play for Real Madrid under coaches as disparate as Pellegrini, Mourinho Y Ancelottiand did not hesitate to go to Germany and join Bayern Pep Guardiolawhere he retired while still at the top.

To play in four teams and in three countries allowed Alonso learn and experience very different models and contexts, something that he is also doing in his fledgling role as a coach. After starting in the lower categories of Real Madrid, where the example of Raul Gonzalez leading Castilla discourages anyone, Xabi did not hesitate to accept the offer to start his new career in the same place where he began as a footballer: Zubieta. There he joined the second Real team, the one known to all as Sanse, and in his second season he managed to be promoted to Segunda, something that had not happened in the San Sebastian club for sixty years.

As expected in a team whose main objective is not the results, but to nurture Real players, the season in LaLiga Smartbank was very hard and the Sanse ended up descending, although the most important thing is that up to eight players have already debuted with the first team and for Xabi it was a very enriching experience. After three seasons in Zubieta, Alonso concluded his first stage of training and, instead of rushing in and accepting the first offer that came his way, he decided to wait until one came along that, in addition to being interesting, would be the most convenient for his progression. .

And this is the second difference with Xavi, who did not hesitate to agree to sit on the bench at the Camp Nou even knowing the complicated economic, social and also sporting situation that the Catalan club is going through, in addition to not being the first option of its new president, Joan Laporta. It is true that there are opportunities that only happen once in a lifetime, but the risk, both for him and for Barça, was very high. In addition to not being sufficiently prepared, well the leap from Qatari Al-Sadd to the Barça first team is abysmalNor were the circumstances at the Catalan club the most suitable for a rookie no matter how legendary he may be.

Guardiola and Xavi greet each other at the Camp Nou. (Reuters/Nacho Twelve)

Pep’s hand did not shake

When Pep Guardiola was presented as the new coach of FC Barcelona -remember, after having managed the second team the previous season-, he announced that in the planning of his first season he did not have three of the great stars of the squad, Ronaldinho, Deco and Eto’o, because, in his opinion, the three had completed their cycle at Barça. “We are contemplating the squad without them. The coach thinks so after analyzing performance issues and the seasons they have been with the team, and also non-tangible issues,” was the resounding message.

Accompanied by Laporta, then also president of the club, and Txiki Begiristainwho was the Barça sports director and who is now with him in the Manchester CityGuardiola explained that the departure of Ronaldinho, Deco and Eto’o was “the best for the team”. “If they were at his level, they would be with us. We plan the squad without them, but if they end up staying, I will give my life to bring them back to their level.”, he added. And this was what happened with the Cameroonian striker, who showed him that he had a place in his project. In other words, Pep was clear about that before entering, let them out…

However, this is something that Xavi has not done. In the last winter market he asked Fernando Torres, aubameyang, Adama Traore Y Daniel Alves. This summer, they have brought raphinha, Lewandowski, Christensen, Kessie, Mark Alonso, Hector Bellerin, Kounde, In addition to renewing Sergio Robert Y Dembele. And all this in an economically dramatic situation, hence the pressure for results is even greater. Nevertheless, the presence in the locker room of some veterans such as Piqué, Sergio Busquets or Jordi Albawho it is true that he wanted to get out, but could not, in addition to the false steps taken with other players such as DeJongthey are complicating the management for a coach who is just starting out.

Photo: Xabi Alonso, during Bayer Leverkusen-Schalke 04. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)
Xabi Alonso debuts in style in the elite and Real, Liverpool, Madrid and Bayern will not take their eyes off him

Kike Marin

But there is more. If the Xavi coach, who in little or nothing is resembling the Xavi footballerunderstands that, with the players he has, because he has asked for them or has kept them, his Barça must be very vertical, that is, without making hardly any transitions and being in control of the game, It should be clear to him that footballers like Busquets, with 9 cards in 12 games, and Piqué, completely outclassed at key moments, no longer have a place. If something seemed that could guarantee his return, it is that the team did not lose its identity, but this is not happening either. In case of Pedri is another example. Lost when it comes to running more than playing.

Who knows. If Bayer Leverkusen manages to qualify for the Europa League at the expense of Atletico Madridperhaps Xabi Alonso will have the opportunity to face Xavi Hernández, without a doubt two antagonistic models as far as their beginnings of the coaching career are concerned. Although we will see if by then the Catalan is still in a Barça to which he has returned through the roof … of a house in ruins. If after the millionaire investment and betraying the game model that he nurtured and that he has boasted so much about, he does not achieve results, his career could go to waste at the first change.


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Peggy McColl

Mentor l NY Times Bestselling Author. Hi, I'm Peggy McColl, and I'm here to deliver a positive message to you!

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