Alphonso Davies won his fourth title on Saturday, his 11th piece of silverware at the club since he joined in January. He has developed into one of the world's best defenders and a key player in the active dynasty of success that he has been a part of. Davies is a fast wing-back, but he is more than that. When he made the World XI, he developed his all-court game to the extent that he was recognised by the world governing body. This season has been more difficult. He was adjusting to life under a new coach and starting every week, but then came the unexpected news that would force him to take some time away from the game. After testing positive for COVID-19 during the winter break, he was left with a condition called myocarditis. The only cure was for Davies to stop playing. He needed to keep his heart rate low because he used to operate at high speeds. He had to slow down, by his own admission, as he watched his Canada teammates qualify for the World Cup, and as he watched his team's archrivals, FCB, close in on their 10th straight title. On April 6, Davies came back to the pitch and played left-back, flying up and down the wing, like he was 2020 all over again. So, who is going to qualify for the next season's competition? (E+)
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Alphonso Davies won his fourth title on Saturday, his 11th piece of silverware at the club since he joined in January. He has developed into one of the world's best defenders and a key player in the active dynasty of success that he has been a part of.
Davies is a fast wing-back, but he is more than that. When he made the World XI, he developed his all-court game to the extent that he was recognised by the world governing body. This season has been more difficult. He was adjusting to life under a new coach and starting every week, but then came the unexpected news that would force him to take some time away from the game.
After testing positive for COVID-19 during the winter break, he was left with a condition called myocarditis. The only cure was for Davies to stop playing. He needed to keep his heart rate low because he used to operate at high speeds. He had to slow down, by his own admission, as he watched his Canada teammates qualify for the World Cup, and as he watched his team's archrivals, FCB, close in on their 10th straight title.
On April 6, Davies came back to the pitch and played left-back, flying up and down the wing, like he was 2020 all over again.
So, who is going to qualify for the next season's competition? (E+)
- ESPN+ viewers guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, more
Davies sat down with the sports network last week to talk about his life as a football star, as well as his responsibilities as a UN High Commissioner for Refugees ambassador, something that means a lot to him as he grew up as a refugee.
This is the definitive look at Davies present and future and how he has tailored his game to excel under Nagelsmann, while also being Canada's focal point. The man says that it doesn't matter where the coach plays him, he just tries to do the best he can.
Davies was born at a refugee camp in Buduburam, where his parents fled during the second Civil War of the country. Davies is a goodwill ambassador for the UN refugee agency. It has been difficult to see recent events in Ukraine. Davies says his parents were in the middle of a war and had to leave. It is a traumatizing situation.
When his family arrived in Canada in 2005, Davies found himself on the soccer field, learning his craft at the Edmonton Strikers, MLS and the Whitecaps before earning his move to the Bundesliga in July. He played mostly on the left wing in the first season after the move. He moved between left wing and left wing-back during the next term, but when he was replaced by Flick, he became the first-choice full-back.
Davies won six trophies with Bayern in 2020 but after a great year, he was injured and had heart problems. It has been a learning experience.
Injuries and poor performances are part of the game, but you have to keep fighting. I have had an injury with the heart and it is another step back, but I keep going.
He was stopped in his tracks by the heart scare. He got a call from the doctor after recovering from COVID-19, and did a couple of training sessions. He was playing a game and the doctor told him there was something wrong with his heart. They told him to stop playing. His frustration grew as weeks flew by.
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He says that he couldn't do anything and couldn't even work out. It was scary news for an active man.
Davies was watching as his teammates booked their spot in the final two places for Canada. He is already a well-loved player of the game with 314,000 subscribers. His TikTok following has grown to six million, with 90.5 million likes, as he brings fans into daily life with his girlfriend and professional footballer, Olympic gold medalist with Canada, and Paris Saint-Germain forward.
The experience of watching his teammates was different. He did his best to keep a straight face as passes went askew or moves broke down, knowing his reactions would be interpreted one way or another. They needed to beat Jamaica to qualify. Davies tried to keep a poker face.
Davies says watching the game as a fan was nerve-racking, and he knew Jamaica were a strong team. I sent the boys a text and watched. They put in a great performance.
After the final whistle, Davies broke down into tears and said that he was going to the World Cup. We are going to the World Cup! He said at the time that he couldn't believe it. My dream has come true.
Davies had eight goals and 11 assists as a 17-year-old for the Whitecaps. His dribbling skills were nearly as advanced as his speed, and that summer he was swooped in by a team.
He worked his way up to the top in Europe quickly, even for those who watched his man- against-boys routine in MLS. When he took the job, he moved veteran David Alaba to a center-back role and asked 19-year-old Davies to play the left-midfield and left, because he was fast enough to play both positions at the same time.
Davies said that his speed is one of his biggest assets. When your opponent is going towards your goal, you have to stop him at all costs, as a defender. I try to do that.
Davies intercepted the ball out of nowhere, only to watch the right wingers build solid counterattacks. In attack, he sacrificed individual production in the name of creating ultimate width and pressure on the outside, yet he also produced eight assists (6th on the team) and 316 ball recoveries (2nd) as the team swept through every competition.
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On Tuesday, April 26.
• Fulham v Nottm Forest (2:40 p.m. ET)
On Wednesday, April 27.
• Middlesbrough v Cardiff (2:40 p.m. ET)
• Birmingham v Charleston (8 p.m. ET)
• Memphis v Tampa Bay (8 p.m. ET)
There have been further shifts in the position. In 2020-21, he battled injuries and played a more conservative role because of the struggles of transition defense. He went from an average of 1.5 chances created and 0.24 xG+xA per 90 minutes to 1.1 and 0.12, and only 27.8% of his touches came in the attacking third. In the year of 22nd century, the trend has been reversed by Nagelsmann.
Davies says that Nagelsmann has a lot of brilliant ideas that he wants to implement in the game. When we have the ball, we play a back three; when we don't, we play a back four, and basically you try to give our wingers opportunities to go directly to the goal. Our full-backs support them.
Davies was once again asked to drift further up the pitch with only three at the back. 38.5% of his touches have come in the attacking third, and while his ball recovery and defensive intervention totals are down, his productivity in attack has risen to 1.7 chances created and 0.39 xG+xA per 90 minutes. He has yet to score in league play, but it is only a matter of time, he has set career highs in both shot attempts and xG.
Davies role has changed slightly, but the goal remains the same: play two positions at once.
Archie Rhind-Tutt was told by Alphonso Davies about missing months of the season with myocarditis.
Every time he reports for the national team, Davies learns and adjusts to different tactics. Over the past three years, he has recorded 42% of his minutes on the left wing for Canada.
There are subtle differences in usage.
Davies is more likely to drift in from the left if he is wearing the Canada shirt.
When you have the caliber of players they have, it is me doing my job wherever the coach puts me. For me, it doesn't matter. I try to do the best I can wherever the coach puts me.
Canada have found success in giving opponents the ball and springing counterattacks, unlike the prototypical ball-dominant club team, which is the third highest among teams in Europe. Their possession rate in the World Cup qualification was the fifth lowest among eight teams, and they attempted just 123 total shots. They scored the most goals and allowed the least.
The style has looked good on him, and one can easily see that Davies is using his speed in counterattacks. Over the past three years, he has played 1,702 minutes for Canada and has produced seven goals and 10 assists. In the seven matches in which he produced at least one assist, Canada produced 14 points, including a big win over Panama and draws against Mexico and the United States in World Cup qualification. Canada won all six matches in which he scored, including a 2-0 win over the U.S. in 2019.
The Canada national team has more exciting young talent than at any point in its history. Jonathan David played a major role in Lille's shocking Ligue 1 title run in 2020-21, and attackers Cyle Larin and Tajon Buchanan both play for solid, middleweight clubs in Europe. The team was able to maintain their standing when Davies was on the sideline dealing with his heart issue.
They will need both Davies and his leadership in order to make noise in the World Cup, which they will play in Group F. He has already played in more high-profile, high-leverage matches than any other Canadian.
Davies says that being a leader doesn't mean telling people what to do. The hunger that you have to win the game, the hunger you have to fight for your team and protect your team on the pitch, and just be vocal, are all things that you have to do.
I don't mean telling people where to go. Give them good information and motivate them as much as possible.
It will take time for Davies to get back to his old self, according to Nagelsmann. The Spanish side knocked the Germans out of the competition in the quarterfinals with a draw at the Allianz Arena.
Just a minute after he came on as a substitute, Davies played Samuel Chukwueze onside for the key goal, which caused a lot of criticism. Davies knows managing the ebb and flow of the game is part of his development. He talked the match through with her.
It is a mark of Davies and the rest of the team that they will not be satisfied with just winning the league this season. The goal is multiple trophies per season and the team is hungry for more.
It seems like the evolution of the club is happening as off-field discussions continue with veterans Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer regarding new contracts. The kids are hungry, the veterans are hungry, and we are ready. We are ready for the fight and there is a brighter future for us.
When Alaba left to join Real Madrid on a free transfer last summer, Davies was already managing one of his mentors.
Davies will start next season as one of their key players. He should be one of the stars of the World Cup in Qatar. He is part of a group of young Canadians, like David and Liam Millar, who are hoping to surprise at the sport's biggest competition.
For Canada, it has been 36 years in the waiting, something his teammates reminded him of, and he is ready to take his country to the global stage. Every footballer wants to play in the World Cup. It is a really cool moment for me.