David Alaba spoke to REAL TOTAL in a detailed interview recently during which he discussed Real Madrid’s start to the season, their recent win over Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League, as well as speaking about teammates like Karim Benzema and Aurelien Tchouameni.
Alaba was one of Los Blancos’ better performers on Wednesday as they defeated Shakhtar 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu. Real had created a host of chances on the night and should have won by a much bigger margin.
So much so that, midfielder Toni Kroos had joked after the game that the scoreline should have been 7-1. Alaba was asked about the German maestro’s comments, to which he replied:
“Only 7-1? (laughs). I don’t know how many chances we had in the end. In any case, there were numerous. Accordingly, I believe that we deserved to win.”
Talking about the start to the defence of their Champions League crown, the Austrian said: “We are definitely happy and satisfied with it. That was certainly our goal, to win the first three games, to be at the top with nine points and thus give us a good starting position.”
On if there had been any changes to the team between last season and this, the ex-Bayern Munich ace responded: “I think it’s similar to what it’s always been – what Real Madrid stands for: a very, very strong team, where the squad is really very strong.
“It’s no secret that we’re really strong as a team, but of course, we also have certain individual players who can make a difference and bring tremendous quality with them.”
When asked about new signing Aurelien Tchouameni, Alaba could not stop himself from heaping praises on the young midfielder.
“In Tchouameni, we’ve now got a player who not only has potential but who brought quality with him from day one. He was able to help the team from day one and made a really great contribution,” Alaba said.
“And it certainly wasn’t that easy after the departure of Casemiro, who really, I think, played world-class in that position for a decade,” he said.
Alaba will be involved in the first El Clasico of this season against Barcelona in less than two weeks. The meeting will see him come face-to-face against his former Bayern Munich teammate, Robert Lewandowski.
Ahead of the reunion, Alaba spoke highly of the Barcelona superstar, calling him one of the best strikers in the game.
“I’m not surprised by Lewy. I know him really well from my time in Munich. For years in Munich, I was able to experience what he does here in Spain.
“He’s one of the best strikers in the world and he’s proven that time and time again over the past few years and he’s showing it again this season,” Alaba said.
Lewandowski is one of the contenders for the Ballon d’Or 2022, along with Alaba’s current Real Madrid teammate Karim Benzema. And when asked who would win the Golden Orb, the defender chose the French striker as the favourite, saying:
“Karim. The question doesn’t even arise because if you look at his last season, what he did there, it’s really unbelievable. I’m really very grateful that I was able to experience it and be a part of it – and see him work every day.”
Alaba, over the years, has proven himself to be an extremely versatile player capable of slotting in at left-back, centre-back and even in defensive midfield.
At Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti has largely used him as a centre-half and occasionally on the left side. When asked about his favoured position, the Austrian international said:
“I’m more comfortable inside. I also think he [Ancelotti] sees me more in that position. It’s no secret that I can play on the left. If I have to play there or help out, then of course I try to help the team as much as I can.”
Talking about the tough run of fixtures and the packed schedule in the lead-up to the FIFA World Cup next month, Alaba added:
“The next few weeks will be extremely important because we have a lot of games. We play every three days until November, until the World Cup. We really have to be extremely focused and concentrated.
“It’s important that we prepare as best we can for the games and recover as best we can. We really have to focus on football so that we can be successful over the next few weeks.”
Ancelotti considering playing a makeshift centre-back pairing for Real Madrid against Valencia – report
Real Madrid will take on Valencia on Saturday, looking to maintain their solid lead at the top of the league table.
The Spanish giants are leading the standing with a six-point lead over Girona. A win against Valencia could help them solidify their position at the top while potentially opening up an opportunity to extend the lead to more than six points.
Heading into this game, though, Carlo Ancelotti is facing multiple setbacks, especially in the defensive unit, with Eder Militao, David Alaba and Thibaut Courtois still missing due to injuries.
This will once again put pressure on Ancelotti, as far as the team selection is concerned.
Rudiger & Tchouameni to partner at centre-back vs Valencia
Fortunately for the Real Madrid coach, much of his experimentations this season have worked, including Aurelien Tchouameni’s supreme performances at centre-back.
With that in mind, Diario AS reports Ancelotti is considering playing a makeshift central defensive pair against Valencia, comprising Antonio Rudiger and Tchouameni.
This is not the first time the young Frenchman will have to accompany Rudiger at centre-back. He did so earlier in the year when Real Madrid took on RCD Mallorca.
Interestingly, Real Madrid were able to retain a clean sheet, with Rudiger scoring the winning goal, in a narrow 1-0 victory.
What are Ancelotti’s other options?
Ancelotti will be hoping for a similar outcome this time around. However, it must be noted that the Italian will be boosted by the return of Dani Carvajal from suspension.
The veteran Spaniard can be an option at centre-back. But given the way how Tchouameni has impressed onlookers with his performances at centre-back, there is very little reason why he shouldn’t continue in the position.
Tchouameni has even been compared to Javier Mascherano by former Spanish coach Roberto Moreno.
Other than Carvajal, though, Nacho Fernandez is another option for Ancelotti. But the veteran defender is suffering with discomfort and Ancelotti has no plans to risk it.