As Frank Lampard unleashed a barrage of venomous insults towards Marcos Alonso, publicly shaming the left-back for a notoriously chaotic defensive display, one can imagine the Hawthorn’s away changing room seemed a far cry from his penthouse apartment in Florence.
Yet it would be Marcos Alonso that would have the last laugh, enduring the Chelsea legend’s wrath and now shining under his German predecessor. A player that has come to define the term one-dimensional during his years at Chelsea, Marcos Alonso isn’t without his critics. Yet much like the nunchuck; useless when placed in the hands of a novice but deadly when utilised correctly. Alonso continues to combat his way through the opponent’s penalty boxes, and with an air of inevitability score decisive goals for Chelsea.
How Marcos Alonso won Antonio Conte’s Approval
Upon joining the enigma of Antonio Conte’ss Chelsea in 2016, the 22 capped Spanish international ceremoniously announced himself with a goal in a 5-0 demolishing of Everton at Stamford Bridge. It was somewhat fitting the manner in which his first goal in Chelsea blue was scored. The nutmeg on Jordan Pickford had that slight hint of arrogance that Marcos Alonso characteristically exudes when scoring. That season we truly witnessed the power of pragmatic management. Conte reinvigorated the three at the back, giving Alonso the license to push higher up the pitch and utilize his attacking ability.
His whipping freekick that curled over Bournemouth’s wall is a goal that sticks out as a sign of things to come. That strike confirmed his cultured left foot to the league and really put Alonso on course to be considered a cult hero. In Conte’s first seasons the then 27-year-old Spaniard would often find himself drifting inside the box, off the left, and gratefully conclude layoffs from Eden Hazard and fellow countryman Pedro Rodrigez. Alonso seems to be synonymous with unbalanced finishes that more often than not evade the unsuspecting keeper. Yet what really set him apart from other attacking left-backs was his set-pieces.
Perhaps his most iconic performances to date came during Conte’s second, slightly less impressive season. The Blues once again would be matched up against a Spurs side on the cusp of greatness. The likes of Son Heung-min and Harry Kane were guided by the tactically astute and shoestring budget extraordinaire Mauricio Pochettino, all aiming to dent the Italian’s reputation and break the ever-famous trophy drought. Despite the previous season’s heroics, Conte found himself battling with the Chelsea board, accompanied by locking horns with talismanic striker Diego Costa, who was regrettably let go via text message. And with his replacement (Alvaro Morata) in dyer form, the Italians touch line ferocities seemed to be numbered.
A Cultured Left Foot
With a surprisingly uncharacteristic headed miss from Morata in the first half, Spurs began to tighten their grip and began to look lively through the marauding Danish attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen. Yet it would be Conte’s favoured left-back that would secure Chelsea a place in the FA Cup final. Reminiscent of his strike that rattled the Vitality Stadium earlier that season, Alonso’s side-footed the ball into the top corner, and with his arms spread wide that forever famous smug grin appeared once again. Simply, a brilliant strike.
Alonso isn’t the most technically gifted player on the pitch, or the most physically blessed, but he’s got a likeable, almost deluded quality about him. He’s a man that truly believes he’s the reincarnation of Franco Baresi, and this blind arrogance is something to be admired in some strange way. Amongst his highlight reel of iconic goals against Spurs, Alonso occupies a unique place in Chelsea’s history. He joined at a time where the squad was still recovering from the aftermath of Jose demise, a season where functionality and structure perhaps hid his frailties. These imperfections have come to bare their teeth in recent seasons, but it’s his iconic moments against Chelsea’s biggest rival that grant him a cult-like personality.
Written by Charlie Castillo @_CGCastillo
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