As the nation of Spain gears up for the European Championships next summer, some of Spain’s finest players are starting to return to the place where they began their careers. One of those players is Xabi Alonso, who captained the national team in 2008 and 2009.
Since his two-year stint with Bayern Munich came to an end in 2012, Alonso has been linked with moves to both Chelsea and Real Madrid. At Chelsea, Alonso was said to be interested in playing as a right back, with fellow Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta the team’s starting right back. However, the Madrid rumours turned out to be nothing more than an expression of interest. And now, just two months after he was part of Liverpool’s stunning Champions League win against Real Madrid, Alonso appears to be re-living his best days.
Earlier this year, the former Real Madrid midfielder completed a loan spell at Bayern’s Bundesliga rivals Eintracht Frankfurt. The deal, which was slated to finish at the end of the year, remains on the books, although Alonso may have enjoyed life in Germany too much to stay for the foreseeable future.
By late summer, reports came in that both Chelsea and Liverpool were interested in bringing Alonso back to England’s Premier League, with Liverpool ahead of the other.
Alonso is not the first Spanish superstar to make the move to England and it will not be the last. Franck Ribery is currently playing alongside Alonso in Munich, whilst Xavi has returned to the Camp Nou as a Barcelona player. It was Neymar that was a regular visitor to Chelsea from 2011 to 2013. The young Brazilian had followed in the footsteps of the likes of Luis Figo, Samuel Eto’o and Fernando Torres by establishing himself at Stamford Bridge and was tipped to become a future Chelsea captain. Instead, rather than prosper in the Premier League, he moved to Paris Saint-Germain for a fee that dwarfed the then-record-breaking £50m Chelsea had paid for Fernando Torres.
Could Alvaro Morata be the next Spaniard with aspirations of a move back to England?
Earlier this week, Liverpool received a wake-up call that they are now facing a serious challenge in the race for the top four as Barcelona managed to lose their second consecutive game at the Camp Nou. The result, coupled with Paris Saint-Germain’s ninth consecutive win, spelled trouble for Jurgen Klopp. Their battle to finish in the top four could well depend on the performance of Alvaro Morata, who only moved to Anfield in the summer.
That match against the Catalans was his first game at Anfield and though he managed a goal and an assist, it was not a good night for the Spaniard. He looked totally out of sync against a solid defensive line, although his early goal provided some respite. While much is expected of Morata, it is important that Klopp does not put too much pressure on him after such a poor start. He has played just two Premier League games for Liverpool.
It seems unlikely that Spain will qualify for the 2020 European Championships, but there is little doubt the country still has some fantastic players still in the prime of their careers. Between Alonso, Ribery, Raul, and Ozil, the four have already combined for 58 international caps. While Morata will get time to settle in, there is every reason to believe that he could still be the third component of Spain’s next generation of players.
Estadio de la Ceramica
Re: The format of the competition: Where it will be staged, when it will start, how many teams will participate, and how many teams will qualify for the knockout stages.
Based on the UEFA’s agreement, there will be 18 teams from eight groups of three going forward into each round. Euro 2020 will involve a total of 64 games over 35 days. Seven of the teams will go through at the group stage and another will be eliminated after the second round. The other six teams will then go on to the knockout stages, after which one more team will be eliminated each successive round until there are only four teams left. Full details can be found here.