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End of Euro era but business as usual for Lahm, Alonso

Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich’s Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso insisted it’s business as usual despite the ex-Champions League winners making their final European appearances in the quarter-final defeat at Real Madrid.

Lahm and Alonso both retire from all football at the end of the season.

The veterans said their Champions League farewells at Real’s Bernabeu when Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in Tuesday’s 4-2 quarter-final defeat after extra time.

Bayern’s return-leg defeat meant they failed in the bid to reach the semi-finals for the sixth year running and bowed out 6-3 on aggregate.

In a controversial, bad-tempered clash, Arturo Vidal was sent off for Bayern, who forced extra-time in Madrid after Robert Lewandowski converted a penalty and Sergio Ramos scored an own goal to make it 2-1 after 90 minutes.

However, it was ultimately a disappointing end to European football for both Lahm, who captained Bayern to their 2013 title win in London, and Alonso, who won the 2005 final with Liverpool, then lifted the Champions League trophy again in 2014 with his former club Real.

“For now, it’s just disappointment. The emotion will only come after the season is over,” said Lahm, 33, who captained Germany to their 2014 World Cup win and made his 112th Champions League appearance in Madrid.

Alonso, who won both Euro 2008 and 2012, plus the 2010 World Cup with Spain, was equally pragmatic, but admitted it was special to make his 119th Champions League appearance at his former club Real.

– ‘special goodbye’ –

“Now we go on,” said the 35-year-old Spaniard, with the Bundesliga and German Cup titles still up for grabs for Bayern this season.

“I feel very emotional, it was very special to say goodbye to the Bernabeu on a great Champions League night like this,” he added.

Germany defender Mats Hummels praised the pair.

“They have dominated world football and the Champions League. They are two big names who have finished their great careers in a suitable manner with a spectacular game,” said Hummels.

Alonso has won 17 titles for club and country in his career, while Lahm has won 21.

Only the European championship crown is missing from Lahm’s collection having lost the Euro 2008 final with Germany against Alonso’s Spain.

Their joint retirements signal the end of an era at Bayern, with time also running out for veteran wingers Franck Ribery, 34, and Arjen Robben, 33, who both have contracts until June 2018.

Bayern have already covered for Lahm and Alonso by signing Germany internationals Niklas Suele and Sebastian Rudy from Hoffenheim for next season.

Germany star Thomas Mueller says Carlo Ancelotti’s squad, which is eight points clear in the German league table and on course for a fifth straight title, can cope with the loss of experience.

“FC Bayern is a strong club and will also be strong in the next few years,” said Mueller.

Once the pair hang up their boots — with the season to end after the German Cup final on May 27 — Alonso has said he wants to become a coach.

Lahm has turned down the chance to become Bayern’s director of sport and says he will decide his future after a break from the game.

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