Per­fect swan­song for Lahm, Alonso

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MU­NICH: Bay­ern Mu­nich’s beer­soaked head coach Carlo Ancelotti con­ceded it will be tough to re­place Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso af­ter the pair played their fi­nal game be­fore re­tir­ing.

Lahm, 33, and Alonso, 35, hung up their boots af­ter Satur­day’s 41 win over Freiburg as Bay­ern cel­e­brated lift­ing the Ger­man league tro­phy for the fifth sea­son in a row.

The Ger­man giants ended up 15 points clear in Ancelotti’s first sea­son since re­plac­ing Pep Guardi­ola.

Ger­many’s World Cup-win­ning cap­tain Lahm played his 517th and fi­nal game in the Bay­ern shirt, lift­ing the Bun­desliga shield for a record-equalling eighth time.

Alonso, a 2010 World Cup win­ner, as well as Euro 2008 and 2012 cham­pion with Spain, proved he is go­ing out at the top af­ter his su­perb di­ag­o­nal pass set up Ar­jen Robben for the open­ing goal.

“It was an emo­tional day for Xabi Alonso and for Philipp Lahm,” said Ancelotti, who has now won league ti­tles as a coach in Ger­many, Italy, Eng­land and France.

“I want to thank both play­ers, they have played a fan­tas­tic sea­son in fan­tas­tic ca­reers, but now we have to look for­ward and try to find good re­place­ments.”

Hof­fen­heim’s Ger­many in­ter­na­tion­als Nik­las Suele and Se­bas­tian Rudy will join Bay­ern next sea­son to fight to fill the va­cant po­si­tions.

Ancelotti was a prime tar­get af­ter the fi­nal whis­tle for the tra­di­tional ‘Bier­dusche’ (beer shower) as his team hunted him down with three-litre glasses of wheat beer.

Goalscorer Robben raised his arms in tri­umph when he won the race to soak Ancelotti, who wisely wore a tracksuit for the oc­ca­sion.

“I’m still alive. It was funny, but a bit cold,” joked a sod­den Ancelotti.

He was not the only Bay­ern star to get a good drench­ing — as­sis­tant coach Her­mann Ger­land man­aged to dump all three litres over Lahm, who was giv­ing a live TV in­ter­view.

“There are mixed feel­ings, I must say,” said Lahm be­fore the beer hit him. “This is very emo­tional to­day. I have ex­pe­ri­enced so much here,” he added, hav­ing joined Bay­ern as an 11-year-old.

“My friends and fam­ily are there and it was the last time.

“It was my life to be here on the pitch and to­day it was the last time in this com­mu­nity - I’ve al­ways seen foot­ball as a big com­mu­nity.

“You pur­sue goals with the fans and with all your team-mates. I will miss that later.”

Lahm has turned down Bay­ern’s sports di­rec­tor role and says he will de­cide his fu­ture af­ter spend­ing time with this fam­ily as his wife is ex­pect­ing their sec­ond child. AFP

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