Bayern Munich head coach Carlo Ancelotti has promised Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso the chance for a special farewell in Saturday’s Bundesliga match with Freiburg.
The experienced duo will retire from playing after this weekend’s round of matches, bringing to an end two illustrious careers which have seen them win a collective total of 39 major trophies for club and country.
Ancelotti says the final training session with Lahm and Alonso was an emotional experience and is preparing to start them against Freiburg before substituting them late on to give the Allianz Arena crowd the chance to pay tribute.
“The last training session with Philipp and Xabi Alonso was very emotional. I’m proud to be able to have coached these players,” Ancelotti told a news conference on Friday.
“They play and will be replaced shortly before the end, so that they can be celebrated.”
Lahm has been tipped to take on a non-playing role at Bayern in future, while Alonso has also been backed to stay in football, and Ancelotti says both men would make excellent coaches if they chose to pursue that path.
“Both can be fantastic coaches,” he said. “If they choose to do so, I think they’ll do a good job.”
Bayern will celebrate their title win in front of their home fans on Saturday to cap a moderately successful first season in Germany for Ancelotti.
The 57-year-old steered Bayern to their fifth title in a row this term and claimed the DFL-Supercup last August, but his team suffered defeats in the Champions League quarter-finals to Real Madrid and the DFB-Pokal semi-finals to Borussia Dortmund.
Ancelotti felt they were unlucky when a handful of senior players were struck by injuries, including Robert Lewandowski, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, but is nonetheless happy with his first year at the club.
“We analysed the season and you can say that it has gone well,” Ancelotti said. “In the end, the players finished the season in good physical condition.
“However, in the decisive phase we were unlucky with the injuries to Lewandowski, Hummels and Boateng.
“I told my players today that I was very happy to coach them. They’ve always been very professional. They’ve never caused me any problem.
“It’s my first trophy here. Every victory is important and makes you happy.”