It’s been a landmark week in the career of Marcos Alonso, and having reached a significant milestone on the international stage he now aims to help the Blues secure an important victory against Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow.
Alonso has been a revelation since signing for the Blues from Fiorentina in August 2016, and he was rewarded for his fine form at club level over the past two seasons with a first call-up to the senior Spain squad for their recent friendlies against Germany and Argentina.
It was in the second of those game, on Tuesday, that Alonso was eventually handed his debut for Spain, coming off the bench to replace Jordi Alba for the closing stages of their 6-1 victory.
‘I’m very proud, it was a very special moment for me and my family but I’m back here now and focusing on a very important game,’ he said. ‘I’m very happy but it’s time to keep working, training well and hopefully I will be on the next list.
‘I’m very grateful to everybody; my team-mates, the manager and all of the staff. They work with the players every day and they’re very important for us.’
Now back with the Blues, Alonso’s immediate focus is on tomorrow’s huge game, the first of two home derbies in an eight-day period, with West Ham United heading to SW6 next Sunday.
We currently trail Mauricio Pochettino’s side, who are fourth, by five points, meaning the game presents us with an ideal opportunity to close the gap.
‘We have a massive game, it’s a must-win I think,’ said Alonso. ‘We are very focused on winning and it will be a very good game, for sure. We play at home and we have to win. It’s a derby against a good team in Tottenham but we are ready.
‘They are a very strong team physically and they have a lot of players with quality. It will be tough, for sure, but I think with the quality we have, and the players we have, if we play our game and do well I’m sure we will get the three points.’
In his pre-match press conference, Antonio Conte said he would need to assess the physical condition of Thibaut Courtois, who withdrew from the Belgium national squad due to injury, before making a decision on who starts in goal, but Alonso has complete faith in Willy Caballero should the Argentine be called upon.
‘He’s played some really good games this year, in the league and cup,’ Alonso explained. ‘We will see if Thibaut can make it and if not Willy will be ready.
‘He’s going through a good moment, he played two games with the national team and I guess his confidence is high.’
Alonso also spoke about his compatriot Alvaro Morata, who opened the scoring with a smart finish in the match which preceded the international break, the FA Cup quarter-final win at Leicester City.
‘After a difficult period he’s been training very well in the last couple of weeks and hopefully he will be on the scoresheet again,’ said Alonso.
‘For players it’s always hard when you have injuries. It’s his first year in the Premier League and you need some time to adapt to a new league and a new country, but I think he’s an important player for us and hopefully he will keep scoring like he did in the last game.’
It was Alonso’s brace, including a stunning free-kick, which ensured we got the better of Tottenham when the two teams met earlier in the season.
‘I have great memories but that’s part of the past now and this is another game, a very important one,’ he said. ‘We will have to play well again in order to get the three points.
‘It’s going to be massive for us if we win because we will be very close. There will be seven games to go so tomorrow will be a good time to get the first win.’