Carlo Ancelotti has identified Xabi Alonso’s return from injury as the key to Real Madrid’s improved form of the past few weeks.
Midfielder Alonso underwent an operation on his groin over the summer and returned as a substitute in a 7-3 home win over Sevilla at the end of October, since which Madrid have earned plaudits for their improved style of football.
According to Ancelotti, much of that is down to the 33-year-old, someone the Italian says reminds him a lot of himself during his playing days and for whom age is no barrier.
“I can say that Xabi Alonso has been the key to this. He is a very important player for this team and his quality and experience is vital,” Ancelotti told esRadio.
“He has the ability to see the bigger picture and I can see a lot of myself in him, although if I had to compare us then his quality of pass is better. He’s slow like me but is technically superior and doesn’t have a problem with age.
“Take [Andrea] Pirlo, who is similar. At 35 he is still doing well and in their position age doesn’t matter, yet for others it could. At right-back, for example, you need to be right physically and in peak condition.
“In the middle it is more about skill, intelligence, tactical know-how and is not as physical,” explained the 54-year-old.
Ancelotti insisted he is not concerned about Alonso penning a new deal at the Santiago Bernabeu, with his existing contract due to expire in June 2014.
“I believe everybody knows how important it is but I’m not concerned, although it would make a great Christmas present for me if Xabi renewed,” he admitted.