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Bayern Munich Alumni: David Alaba recently explained what it was like adapting to life at Real Madrid

Alaba has hit the ground running in Madrid, but the transition didn’t just magically occur overnight.

Getafe v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

La Liga is an entirely different beast than the Bundesliga, but David Alaba has quickly established himself in Real Madrid’s defense after joining from Bayern Munich this past summer. So far this season, he’s made a total of 24 appearances across all competitions as Real Madrid sit eight points clear of Sevilla on top of the La Liga table and he’s become a defensive leader at center back alongside Éder Militão.

Alaba had recently made it clear in an interview that after 13 years at Bayern, he was ready to take on a new challenge, which was the main driving force behind deciding to leave the club instead of renewing his contract despite the front office’s best efforts. “When you grow up with football, you know that Real Madrid are the biggest club in the world, so nothing surprised me when I came here,” Alaba previously said. However, Alaba recently admitted that he did take some time to adapt to life at a new club with different playing styles than he was used to at Bayern.

“I had to do without a lot of comfort. Professionally, I’ve had a standing in the club and in the team, I’ve matured into a leading player,” Alaba recently of making the switch to Madrid in an interview (Sport Bild). As a senior player at Bayern, he was a leader at the club and had such high standing after over a decade with the club to the point where Hansi Flick had dubbed him Bayern’s “defensive chief” in their 2019/20, treble-winning season. Moving to Madrid, though, he said that he had to adjust to a different style of play than he was accustomed to. “We are not a team that plays as high a pressing as we did in Munich, so we are not as high in the defense chain as under Hansi Flick,” he said.

He currently wears the number 4 kit for Real Madrid, but Alaba did want to retain the number 27 that he had sported at Bayern. In Spain, the way they allocate numbers amongst the squad is a little different than abroad, as he explained. “As for the number on my back, I wanted my 27, but in Spain the pros have the numbers 1 to 25. On the one hand, there were no other numbers available, and on the other hand, the club wanted me to wear the number 4,” he said. Despite not getting his preferred number 27, he was honored to get the number 4 that’s been previously dawned by legends of the club. “Before Ramos she had Fernando Hierro, both were captain. I wear them with pride and see it as an additional incentive,” he explained.

Real Madrid CF v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Outsiders often refer to the Bundesliga as a “farmer’s league,” stemming from Bayern’s continuous dominance of the league, and some draw similar comparisons to La Liga with Real Madrid and Barcelona’s dominance. However, that trend has certainly lessened with the current financial state of Barcelona and Alaba revealed that there really aren’t any easy matches in La Liga. ”You think you’re Real Madrid and you’re going to Levante or Alavés and they’re going to bunker. The opposite is the case because everyone plays out from behind,” he said.