Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso has already tasted Uefa Champions League glory once in his career with Liverpool when he helped the English side complete an incredible comeback from 0-3 down to beat AC Milan on penalties in the 2005 final in Istanbul. He is now eager to relive those emotions with the current Spanish champions who are chasing a historic 10th European Cup as they prepare to host Galatasaray in Wednesday night’s quarter-final first leg encounter.
Q) It looks like Barcelona are going to win La Liga and take your title back; does that make the Champions League even more important to Real Madrid?
A) "Oh, the Champions League is always important - especially at this club. But it's true that our league season has been disappointing because at a club like this you always start the season with big expectations. We wanted to defend our title but now we know it's almost impossible to win the league again; so we are all really looking forward to the Champions League and being able to make the final instead. To be in London in May would be very special; to play a Champions League Final at Wembley, I don't think you can ask for more. But it's not going to be easy to get there because there are a lot of great teams with the same idea. We also know that Galatasaray are a big team, especially with Drogba there now. We all know what he can do."
Q) Are you dreaming of a Barcelona-Real Madrid Final? ‘El Clasico’ at Wembley would be pretty special!
A) "It could happen! They are a very good team and so are we - and we are both still in the competition. Of course it would be special. But the important thing for us is to get to the final; it doesn't matter who you play. And, as I say, it's very difficult to get there."
Q) But Real will be big favourites to reach the semi-finals at least. How do you expect the match against Galatasaray to go?
A) "All I can say is that we want to get a good result and I am sure it will be a good game with a great atmosphere. There are still several stages before the final and Wednesday is the first. So we need to take it step by step."
Q) Has your disappointing league form caused any problems in Madrid? What are the fans saying about the season so far?
A) "The thing most of the fans say is that we have to get our 10th European Cup. It's very important to people here. So that's what we want to do now."
Q) It's become rather an obsession for Real don't you think? Wanting to win the 10th trophy, the 'decima'?
A) “No, I don't like that word. It shouldn’t turn into an obsession, because that doesn’t help, but it’s an important objective. We know it’s been a number of years since Madrid last won the European Cup, but it isn’t an easy competition to win because we are competing against the top clubs in Europe. But of course it's a big target this year."
Q) It's obviously a massive game against Galatasaray; how does Jose Mourinho normally approach these matches? What kind of thing does he say to you before a big Champions League tie?
A) "Actually he is very calm. As a manager, he is very knowledgeable about the psychological part of the game and I think that helps us a lot."
Q) How does he compare with other managers in your career? Is he the 'Special One'?
A) "Well of course he is a very good manager. The way he transmits his ideas, the way he communicates with players is different. He understands his players and you want to win for him, to fight on the pitch for him. He inspires you and we believe in him. He asks 100 per cent from you and he gives 100 per cent in return."
Q) There are lots of reports that Mourinho could be leaving at the end of the season and returning to Chelsea. Do you feel like you are almost playing for his future when you play these Champions League ties?
A) "No, we are just focused on the result of the game. Any repercussion beyond that has not entered our heads at all."
Q) Do you think he will leave?
A) "Well I know he loves the Premier League and the atmosphere there and the way the game is played in England - and I think for sure he will return there one day. He has said so himself. But I believe and I hope he will still be with us next season."
Q) Isn't it destabilising for Real Madrid all this talk about the manager's future though?
A) "I don’t think so. We know where we are. We play quite well, it is not a problem and we don’t think further than the next game and trying to win the Champions League this year. We don’t think about further competitions than that."
Q) Once again Cristiano Ronaldo has been Real's star player this season; he is simply incredible. You have played alongside him for Real Madrid but also against him when you were with Liverpool and he was at Man United. What's your assessment of him?
A) "He is an amazing player, everyone knows that. It is very different to play with him than against him for sure. I am lucky enough to say he is on my side and I am pleased to have him on my side. He is in terrific form and he is looking forward to helping us win more trophies. I don't know what else I can say - you can see his goals for yourself! But it's not just that, he works for the team and he provides assists and hard work as well. He is very special; but one player doesn't win a game - the team wins together. Of course if Cristiano plays well then he is so good that we have a better chance - but he can't do it on his own. We win and lose as a team."