Gelsenkirchen - There was one man that the assembled journalists wanted to speak to more than most following FC Bayern München's 1-1 draw away at FC Schalke 04 on Saturday evening.
Check out the highlights from Xabi Alonso's superb Bayern debut on the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel:
Xabi Alonso, whose transfer from Spanish giants Real Madrid CF was only confirmed on Friday, was thrown straight into Pep Guardiola's starting line-up for the clash at the Veltins Arena, and the World Cup winner and two-time European Champions excelled in the heart of the Bavarians' midfield.
The 32-year-old lasted 68 minutes before being withdrawn and, while admitting that the whirlwind schedule that led to him signing for the German record titleholders had taken its toll, the Spaniard was keen to emphasise his desire to prove himself in Germany's top flight.
Question: Xabi Alonso, you only completed one training session before making your Bundesliga debut. Was that enough?
Xabi Alonso: It was just a light one. Everything happened so quickly. After the medical I had to travel back to Madrid and just after I arrived I met up with the team and the coach for the first time. Now today was my debut. I’m really glad to be here, to be able to experience the Bundesliga and during my time, I’m sure I will enjoy it.
Question: Did you expect to feature in the starting line-up today?
Alonso: Well I had to be ready. I wasn’t sure if I would be, but after Pep told me before the game that I was going to be starting, I said "ok I’m going to be ready". The last few days were quite tough, which is why I got a little tired and couldn’t complete 90 minutes, which is normal. Now I have a week to train properly and be ready for the next encounter.
Question: Did you arrive this morning or yesterday?
Alonso: Yesterday. I needed a proper rest because, as I said, I’ve been travelling a lot these last few days. But it wasn’t a problem. I was going to be ready for today. I think the first 20 minutes were good for the team. We could have scored more goals, but at 1-0 the game is still up for grabs. Schalke pushed us quite hard and managed to score so credit to them as well.
Question: Four days ago you were still playing for Real Madrid CF, now you’re here at Schalke playing for FC Bayern München. How does that feel?
Alonso: It feels good at the moment. I wanted to come here and to have a great experience. I’ve enjoyed La Liga and the Premier League, but it’s a big step for me now to come to the Bundesliga. The teams are great, the crowds are incredible and the speed of play suits me. So I think I’m going to have time to really enjoy this experience over the next couple of years.
Question: What did you make of the atmosphere? Was that something new for you?
Alonso: It’s beautiful. The atmosphere here is really good. I’ve been following the Bundesliga for years. I think that, especially in recent it years, it's been growing, the teams are getting better, it's very popular in Spain and I’m pretty sure it’s going to stay that way. The standard of football is very good, but I knew that coming in, having been here with Real Madrid CF last season.
Question: How big of an influence did Pep Guardiola have on your decision to move to Munich?
Alonso: I’ve know Pep pretty well from his years in Barcelona and the last year he spent in Munich. His philosophy on football and the way he wants his teams to play was a big influence of course. I want to learn a lot and I'm pretty sure I’ll be able to do that. Just in the few hours I’ve been around him I’ve already learnt a few things.
Question: But while you were at Madrid he was your rival?
Alonso: Well that’s football. Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona, Bayern, Schalke, Borussia Dortmund - you have rivals. That’s part of football and has nothing do with what will go on here. Now we’re on the same team and we’re going to be fighting to reach the same targets.
Question: You could become the second player in history to win the UEFA Champions League with three teams. Is that your main target?
Alonso: Of course I know that, but there’s still a long way to go. We’ve only just started the season. We’ve got a lot of games that need to be played. Obviously it would be a fantastic accomplishment, but it’s still a little too early to talk about that.
Dietmar Nolte reporting from Gelsenkirchen