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Upwardly-mobile Roma impress Xabi Alonso

"You could see last season they have taken a step up," said FC Bayern München's Xabi Alonso of AS Roma, as he pondered the struggles of learning a new language.

Xabi Alonso poses with the UEFA Champions League trophy at the Bayern museum
Xabi Alonso poses with the UEFA Champions League trophy at the Bayern museum ©Getty Images

Xabi Alonso scored his first goal for FC Bayern München at the weekend and has settled in fast following his move from Real Madrid CF in the summer. A UEFA Champions League winner with Liverpool FC and Madrid, the 32-year-old midfielder spoke to the press last week about learning German, working with his one-time FC Barcelona rival Josep Guardiola and this week's meetings with AS Roma.

After a month in Munich, how do the Liga and the Bundesliga compare?

Xabi Alonso: Here, the game is quicker. It's more physical, and in that sense you notice the difference. The Liga is slower, and the games are more technical. I would say that the Bundesliga is more like the Premier League than the Liga.

How different is Pep Guardiola compared to other coaches you've played under?

Alonso: He is very methodical. And I have seen that he is a great worker – he spends so many hours thinking about each game. Was he was one of the reasons why I came here? Yes, of course. He showed a lot of interest in me coming here, and it was very important for me to feel that confidence from the coach.

You played for Madrid when Guardiola coached Barcelona; Is it strange to be playing for him now?

Alonso: No, that's part of football. He had his story in Barcelona, I had my story in Real Madrid, and we are now together at Bayern. When we were in Spain, we took each other on many times, but now we are fighting together.

Have you started learning German?

Xabi Alonso scores his first Bayern goal
Xabi Alonso scores his first Bayern goal©AFP/Getty Images

Alonso: The German is a little bit tricky at the moment – it will take some time to learn properly, but I am getting by thanks to my English. I have to make that effort to try to speak German. But you know, it's not the easiest "sprache"; it's not the easiest language.

You have two UEFA Champions League games against AS Roma coming up; how do you rate them?

Alonso: You could see last season that have taken a step up – they are playing great stuff. We faced them in a pre-season friendly with Madrid, so I know how they play. They are definitely going to be challenging for the Scudetto, and they want to reach the next stage in the Champions League. So for us, the one in Rome – the first one – is a vital game, because we have got six points from the first two games and we are in a good position.

Aside from Bayern, who do you think are the big UEFA Champions League contenders this season?

Alonso: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, ourselves… Dortmund are always a tricky club to play against. So I respect lots of clubs; Paris Saint Germain as well. It's quite open.

Is winning the UEFA Champions League with a third club one of of your final career goals?

Alonso: Well, that would be great. We are going to fight for that, and on a personal level, it will be a big, big challenge. But we will see. It is still early days and there's a long way to go.

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