X

Why Xabi Alonso Is Under Most Pressure for Bayern Munich After Bremen Game

Stefan Bienkowski@@SbienkowskiFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2015

Bayern’s Xabi Alonso from Spain reacts during the German first division Bundesliga soccer match between FC Augsburg and FC Bayern Munich in the SGL Arena in Augsburg, Germany, on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

It is almost impossible to apply a critical tone to Bayern Munich's recent performances in the Champions League and Bundesliga. 

Pep Guardiola's team have scored 11 goals in the last 180 minutes of football without conceding a single one in return, with each member of the starting XI playing out of their skin and looking like a team that may well pick up another historic treble in May. 

Yet one aspect of both games is the notable absence of one important player: Xabi Alonso, Bayern's former hero at the start of the season and now the man under the most pressure to keep his spot in this team of world-class players.

If we were to jump in a time machine and go back seven months to the start of the Bundesliga season and then replay the entire campaign to this point without Alonso, we would undoubtedly be looking at a very different title race from the one we have today. 

Although the Spaniard was signed as cover for the team as a whole, Alonso very quickly came to be a vital part of Guardiola's setup as the only holding midfielder in the squad who was fit enough to start every game. 

Matthias Schrader/Associated Press
Video Play Button
Videos you might like

With Toni Kroos out the door, Javi Martinez injured from the pre-season super cup against Borussia Dortmund and Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm not quite fully replenished from a successful but gruelling World Cup campaign, Guardiola had no choice but to turn to his fellow countryman to fill the hole in his side. 

This, fortunately, worked wonders for Bayern, as Alonso stepped in andalmost overnightcame to dominate and successfully dictate the manner in which the Bavarian giants came to play their game each week, while Schweinsteiger et al watched from the sidelines. 

However, that was then. Now, with the likes of Thiago Alcantara and Co. returning to the side, it looks as though Alonso's time in this first team may be coming to an abrupt end. Of course, there is some reason behind this. 

Whether through a simple dip in form or perhaps something a little more long-term—such as getting a little older and not being the athlete he once was—Alonso's performances for Bayern through the season have gone from 10 out of 10 and slowly slipped down from one week to the next, to the point where most fans would rather see someone else play in the role. 

What won't help Alonso's case is the manner in which Schweinsteiger has returned to the side and looked like his usual, powerful self. One of the Spaniard's biggest criticisms is his weaknesses in defensive play—which have led to two suspensions through poor, late tackles. The German clearly thrives with his defensive play through the manner in which he tackles through opponents only to be found picking out through balls moments later. 

Schweinsteiger has now played 90 minutes in the last two games and helped his side to 11 goals without a single one in return. The team look stronger, tighter at the back and ultimately much more potent in attack when the German midfielder takes his place at the heart of Bayern's line-up. 

Add to that the youthful exuberance of the returning Thiago and the intelligence of Lahm, and we have three outstanding players looking to pip Alonso to just one position in the side. 

The Spaniard was undoubtedly a forerunner for Bayern's player of the season a few months ago, but now it looks as though he may finish the season with his feet up on the substitute bench. 

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!