Saturday, June 15, 2024

Alonso relishing ´very special´ first taste of managing in Champions League

SoccerNews in Bundesliga 11 Oct 2022

137 Views

Xabi Alonso is relishing his “very special” first taste of managing in the Champions League as Bayer Leverkusen aim to ignite their European campaign with victory over Porto.

The 40-year-old replaced Gerardo Seoane as Leverkusen head coach last week and made a winning start to his tenure against Schalke in the Bundesliga at the weekend.

Focus now turns to Wednesday’s visit of Porto in UEFA’s flagship competition, which Alonso won as a player with Liverpool in 2005 and Real Madrid nine years later.

Leverkusen are third in Group B at the midway stage after last week’s 2-0 loss to Porto, who they are level on points with, while Club Brugge lead the way with a perfect record.

Asked about managing in the competition for the first time, Alonso said at Tuesday’s pre-match news conference: “It is something very special, for sure.

“It is one thing to play, but it is something different to coach. Hopefully this will be the first of many games in the Champions League.

“But it is always special: the lights, the atmosphere, the noise of the stadium. I think it is the most beautiful competition.

“Every game is big, and you always have to show your highest level when you play these games.”

Saturday’s 4-0 win over Schalke at BayArena was the highest victory for a coach in their first match in charge of Leverkusen.

That was only the German club’s third victory in 13 outings this season and moved them out of the Bundesliga relegation zone.

Leverkusen are now looking to win successive home games in a single Champions League campaign for the first time since October 2014 when Porto visit.

The visitors will be without experienced centre-back and captain Pepe, who Alonso previously played with at Madrid, in what the Leverkusen boss says will be a loss.

“We were team-mates in Madrid and had a great time. He’s a great guy, one that you want to have on your side,” Alonso said.

“I wish him a great recovery. Well, from tomorrow! He’s a very important player for them, the captain, but he’s a leader as well.

“His absence is what it is. You never know if it’s good or bad, but we know what Pepe means for Porto.

“Because of the qualities he has, because of the big personality he has. He’s been able to show that hunger and that motivation the way he plays on.”

Patrik Schick had a penalty saved in last week’s reverse fixture and is without a goal from 12 shots in this season’s competition – at least twice as many shots as any team-mate.

However, Alonso has backed the Czech Republic international – Euro 2020’s joint-top scorer – to find his scoring touch once again.

“His goals will come, for sure,” said Alonso, who previously spent three years managing Real Sociedad B and a period with Madrid’s youth sides.

“He has the quality, the personality and the desire to work on these things. He will help the team and the team will help him.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SoccerNews

Soccernews.com is news blog for soccer with comprehensive coverage of all the major leagues in Europe, as well as MLS in the United States. In addition we offer breaking news for transfers and transfer rumors, ticket sales, betting tips and offers, match previews, and in-depth editorials.

You can follow us on Facebook: Facebook.com/soccernews.com or Twitter: @soccernewsfeed.

SHARE OR COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE

WE RECOMMEND

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This field is required *

Join the conversation!

or Register

Live Scores

advertisement

Betting Guide Advertisement

advertisement

Become a Writer
More More
Top