Alonso: First Darmstadt, then Juventus
Xabi Alonso touched the ball, it bounced once, then he crashed a 30-yard half-volley into the corner of the net: Alonso's match-winner in the DFB Cup Round of 16 match against Darmstadt, voted December Goal of the Month, will be part of every review of the season. “It won't happen again,” the midfielder said with a grin, who cannot believe he will score a similar goal in Saturday's rematch with the men from Hesse.
But there will still be parallels, according to Alonso. Darmstadt lie “very deep, very compact,” the 34-year-old said in the build-up to the third encounter between the German record champions and the Lilies this season. Bayern had approximately 80 percent of the possession in both the 3-0 Bundesliga victory and the 1-0 cup success, but both times it took a long-range effort for the Reds to take the lead. “We'll have to be patient. It'll be crucial to score the first goal,” the experienced Spaniard explained.
Alaba: 'Focus on Darmstadt'
The Reds know their focus must be on Saturday’s match and not on the subsequent Champions League last sixteen trip to face Juventus. But that is not a problem, Alonso insisted: “We're pros. First there's only Darmstadt in our minds. We want to maintain our eight-point lead in the Bundesliga. Then we'll think about Juventus.”
David Alaba agreed: “Our focus is on Darmstadt, we’re taking the match very seriously and we always look forward to playing in front of our own crowd,” stressed the Austrian, who sees the domestic duel as a dress rehearsal for Juve: “Darmstadt will defend very well, and Juventus are also very strong in defence.” Alaba anticipates that the Bavarians must tackle two similar challenges: prise open a deep-lying rearguard while stifling the threat of counter-attacks.