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The Road Back To La Roja
When he made his senior international debut against Argentina in March 2018, Marcos Alonso made a little bit of history – not just for him but for his family.
The Alonsos became the first Spanish family to have three generations of internationals.
His father, Marcos Alonso Pena, made his debut against England in 1985, while his grandfather, Marcos Alonso Imaz, first featured against France in 1955.
The Chelsea defender only earned two more caps, both of which came against England in Nations League group stage fixtures later that same year.
Since then, he has been overlooked, despite the Spanish side being in a period of transition as their golden era fades away.
During the summer his exclusion looked warranted as, despite a slow start to their Euro 2020 campaign, they eventually reached the semi-finals, only to be knocked out on penalties by eventual champions Italy.
Whilst on the international sidelines, he has played under four different club managers since his last call-up, each of whom had their own ideas on how the left wing-back should be utilised.
But only Tuchel has been able to help Alonso kick on, resulting in his return to the Spain fold.
Alonso has kept Ben Chilwell out of the Blues’ starting XI this season, only missing four minutes of league action, before being rested against Southampton last weekend.
And it is not just at the back he is making a difference – making and winning more tackles per 90 this term – with his attacking threat bringing an extra dynamic to Tuchel’s side. That is something that could benefit Spain.
He will be accompanied on his travels by Blues skipper Cesar Azpilicueta, who has become a regular in Enrique’s setup.
Role To Play
La Roja have a tough route through to Sunday's Nations League final, topping Group 4 ahead of Germany, Switzerland and Ukraine. Now Roberto Mancini’s Italy stand in their way at the San Siro in this evening's semi.
Alonso will see some familiar faces amongst the opposition, with the European champions having Chelsea teammates Jorginho and Emerson in their squad.
The Azzurri are on a record unbeaten run of 37 matches but have been far from convincing since their summer triumph.
A 5-0 win over Lithuania flattered the Azzurri, after disappointing draws against Bulgaria and Switzerland.
This will please Spain who took Italy all the way to penalties just three months ago at Wembley.
Speaking ahead of the tie, boss Enrique told Spanish media: “We need to compete for possession with Italy and establish our way of playing.
“There's only one way we can win and that's to play in our style."
That style is the iconic possession-based football we’ve come to expect from Spain over the years.
During the summer, they averaged 72% possession in their six Euro 2020 matches, something Alonso should easily be able to help towards, should he be required.
In the Premier League this season, he’s achieved a pass accuracy of 82% with an average just shy of 40 passes completed per 90 minutes played.
It remains to be seen whether Alonso will earn his fourth cap, but one thing is for certain, he has earned his return.
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