XABI ALONSO insists Real Madrid only got to grips with Lionel Messi when HE was marking him.
The former Spain midfielder battled with the Barcelona star season after season during five years in Madrid.
In ten meetings between 2009 and 2014, Barca won six times to Real’s two.
Those two Los Blancos wins came under Jose Mourinho’s management.
Alonso, 36, explained: “Messi has done a lot of damage to me. Me, Mourinho and Sergio Ramos talked about him a lot.
“We only started to control Messi when I was marking him.
“We sacrificed positions for me to mark him, but once we controlled Messi the matches were even.”
But Alonso and his team-mates were powerless to stop the Argentina superstar in November 2010, when he inspired the Catalan club to a 5-0 win.
However, Alonso reckons that crushing defeat motivated Real to win La Liga the following season.
He said: “The famous 5-0 made us change a lot of things.
“At that time we weren’t ready to compete, a year later we were.
“Barcelona were dominant, but by the end of 2011 we knew we could strike against anybody.”
Alonso famously won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005 but failed to claim the Premier League title.
While Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are scoring goals for fun with the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, Alonso feels his old team lacked the flair needed in midfield.
He said: “We lacked that one special player.
“We had an excellent squad but when it came to unlocking defences with flair, we just didn’t have that player.
“In the Champions League though, we competed like our lives depended on it.”
Ex-Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola surprisingly signed Alonso – then 32 – for Bayern Munich in 2014.
Yet the midfielder played for another three years and won as many Bundesliga titles.
He said: “At Bayern we played in the opponents’ half for 90 minutes.
“I didn’t have to cover that much distance and I held my position.
“This was incredible for me and I actually learnt a lot.”