Real Madrid defender David Alaba praises Man City boss Pep Guardiola ahead of Champions League final

Real Madrid defender David Alaba praises Man City boss Pep Guardiola ahead of Champions League final


Pep Guardiola ‘showed me a side of football I hadn’t really seen before’, says David Alaba… as the Real Madrid defender prepares for the Champions League final and praises the Man City boss for ‘lifting me to the next level’

David Alaba has praised Pep Guardiola’s influence as the Real Madrid defender prepares to face Liverpool after reaching the Champions League final at the Manchester City manager’s expense.

Guardiola inherited 21-year-old Alaba when he took over at Bayern Munich in 2013, helping him to make successive Champions League and Bundesliga teams of the year during a period when the Austria talisman says he was ‘lifted to the next level.’

Alaba told The Athletic: ‘I experienced football differently under him; he showed me a side of football I hadn’t really seen before.

Pep Guardiola (left) proved a huge influence on David Alaba at Bayern between 2013 and 2016

Pep Guardiola (left) proved a huge influence on David Alaba at Bayern between 2013 and 2016

Guardiola was emotional after Bayern edged out Borussia Dortmund in the 2016 DFB Cup Final

Guardiola was emotional after Bayern edged out Borussia Dortmund in the 2016 DFB Cup Final

‘Football as a game of space, as a game of networks and processes. Playing with the ball, without the ball.

‘Little things that make a big difference: the way you dribble, the way to pass, positional play, closing down spaces.

‘When the ball’s up front and to the right, where’s the best position for you at the back on the left? These types of things.

‘I saw so many new things during those years with him, even though I’d seen a few things before already.’

The pair shared respect when Man City met Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals

The pair shared respect when Man City met Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals

City were set for the final before Madrid scored twice after the 90th minute in the second leg

City were set for the final before Madrid scored twice after the 90th minute in the second leg

Guardiola called Alaba an ‘unbelievable talent’ and predicted that he would become one of the world’s best defenders as the pair won three Bundesliga titles among a haul of eight trophies before the manager joined City.

‘I was always quite flexible as a player but Pep lifted me to the next level,’ said Alaba, who won two Champions League trophies at Bayern either side of Guardiola’s tenure.

‘Thanks to him, I developed the ability to play different positions during the same match. Sometimes, I played three different positions in the same match.’

Eight-time Austrian Footballer of the Year Alaba left Bayern after 11 years with the senior squad when he moved to Madrid in 2021.

Alaba will now face the team City beat to the Premier League title when Madrid play Liverpool

Alaba will now face the team City beat to the Premier League title when Madrid play Liverpool

One of the most dramatic nights of his spell in Spain so far came when he helped Madrid oust visitors City from the Champions League in extra time in the semi-finals.

Speaking about Bernabeu boss Carlo Ancelotti, who was also his manager at Bayern during the 2016-17 season, Alaba said: ‘He’s played a huge role in us making it to the Champions League final and winning LaLiga.

‘It’s no coincidence he’s the only manager who’s won the championship in the top five leagues.

‘He’s got huge experience. He knows how success works. He’s seen it all. And there’s also a very human side to him.

‘He’s a father figure for us. A friend. He’s very approachable. He knows how to handle players.

‘He creates a very good atmosphere inside the dressing room. That’s really important – especially at a club like this.’

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