Why Unbelievably Complete David Alaba Is Such An Integral Component Of Pep’s Plans

David Alaba

Heading into Bayern Munich’s game with Hoffenheim, Pep Guardiola had some major headaches as to who to pick to in defence, for Medhi Benatia, Rafinha, Juan Bernat, Javi Martinez and Jerome Boateng were all unavailable through injury.

While this certainly wasn’t an ideal situation to be in, Guardiola’s makeshift backline of Philipp Lahm, Holger Badstuber, Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba performed admirably on their way to keeping a clean sheet. With Badstuber and Kimmich, the latter being rather unfamiliar operating in the heart of defence, deployed as the two centre-backs, Hoffenheim would’ve earmarked this area of the pitch as one that the likes of Eduardo Vargas and Andrej Kramaric may have been able to gain an advantage in. Bayern’s brilliant fullbacks, Alaba and Lahm, were always going to be hard to beat.

Aside from a few promising chances that fell predominantly to Kramaric, however, Bayern’s back four looked solid throughout.

While Alaba undertook his defensive duties with customary energy and intellect, his contribution in Bayern’s possession phases was the most impressive highlight to be drawn from any of Bayern’s defenders attacking exploits.

From his left-back position, the Austrian international provided the perfect platform for his fellow teammates on the left, left winger Kingsley Coman and left sided central midfielder Douglas Costa, to thrive. While Alaba’s well documented capacity to embark on incisive overlapping and underlapping runs from his fullback position still served as a valuable weapon going forward, Alaba did his most important work for the team in deeper positions.

By ostensibly operating as an additional defensive midfielder for large parts, a role which he also excels in, he provided another body in the centre of the park to facilitate possession and to combine with Xabi Alonso. At every available opportunity Alaba would look to come infield into central areas. This successfully dragged his direct opponent, Jonathan Schmid , infield towards him, plus it also meant there was plenty of space for Costa and Coman to operate in without Alaba and Schmidt crowding things. After all, the Brazilian and the Frenchman are both at their best when receiving in wide areas, before then driving inside to create 1v1 scenarios with their opponents.

Alaba used his delightful distribution skills to set the pair on their way, finding them with precision and just the right speed of pass needed for them to get on the ball and wreak havoc on their opponents (usually Sebastian Rudy and Pavel Kaderabek).

Moreover, if ever a turnover occured in an advanced area on the left flank, Alaba’s superb ability to read the play meant he quickly recognised any potential danger and would slide across accordingly to cover the formerly vacant space. His four interceptions and two tackles depicted his strength in this regard.

Alaba’s exemplary shift against the club where he enjoyed a successful loan spell with back in 2011 once again showed why he’s such a valuable asset to Pep’s Bayern. He’s got it all, he’s tremendous technically, mentally and physically, plus his versatility and adaptability make him such a universal player, who can operate in a number of roles, thus giving his manager great tactical flexibility.

Guardiola’s appreciation of the player’s talent is obvious, recently claiming: “David Alaba is our god. He has already played almost all 10 positions.”

Although the result has been overshadowed by the news of Guardiola departing for Manchester City at the end of the season, Alaba’s crucial performance was a key factor in their 2-0 triumph over Die Kraichgauer.

Being named Austrian footballer of the year this week came as a richly deserved reward for his outstanding form for both club and country.

It’s frightening to think that Alaba is still only 23 and that Bayern’s unbelievably complete, wildly gifted utility still has his best years of him.

Expect plenty more in the years to come from Bayern’s Austrian genius. He’s just that good.