Alonso leads Bayer Leverkusen to first Bundesliga title


Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen have been crowned Bundesliga champions for the first time in their history.

Leverkusen beat Werder Bremen 5-0 to move 16 points clear of Bayern Munich – who have won the last 11 Bundesliga titles – with five games left to play.

It is the first trophy Leverkusen have lifted since their German Cup victory in 1993.

Incredibly, Alonso’s side remain undefeated in all competitions and on course for a historic treble. Leverkusen hold a 2-0 advantage over West Ham ahead of Thursday’s Europa League second leg and will face second-division Kaiserslautern in the German cup final.

How Leverkusen claimed the title

Against a backdrop of expectation and a cauldron of noise at the BayArena, Alonso’s side extended their unbeaten streak to 43 matches.

Victor Boniface eased any nerves in the stadium with a 25th-minute penalty after Julian Malatin fouled Jonas Hofmann in the box, with referee Harm Osmers awarding the spot-kick following a VAR consultation.

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Florian Wirtz puts Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 ahead in style at home to Werder Bremen as they close in on the Bundesliga title.

Wave after wave of attack followed but Leverkusen were thwarted until Granit Xhaka curled home a left-foot strike from 25 yards on the hour to effectively end any hope of Bremen spoiling the party.

Wirtz, introduced on the stroke of half-time, then rifled high into the net from a similar distance midway through the second half and a brief pitch invasion followed when he bagged his second in the 83rd minute after going clean through on goal.

He had his treble with a fine finish, the last kick of the match which sparked another pitch invasion as Leverkusen got the victory they needed to guarantee the title with five matches left in the season.

Xhaka: We wrote history together

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Granit Xhaka’s stunning strike edged Bayer Leverkusen closer to the Bundesliga title to put them 2-0 up at home to Werder Bremen.

Bayer Leverkusen captain Granit Xhaka: “It’s very, very difficult to find the right words straight after the game. We did something this year that is more than special. To keep going every three days like this, with this hunger, this focus, this mentality to win every game is unbelievable.

“But today, us together, the players, the staff, the people behind the scenes, the fans – we wrote history after so many, many years. To bring this trophy to Leverkusen is unbelievable and it makes me proud of the team and proud to be here and proud to help with my experience.

“The key to this team is the hunger, how we are putting the work in day-by-day, it’s unbelievable. We showed one more time, even with 16 points ahead of the team in second, that today is the time to take it.”

Xhaka: Alonso is unbelievable

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Granit Xhaka heaps praise on head coach Xabi Alonso after he steers the German side Bayer Leverkusen to a very first Bundesliga title.

“First, he (Alonso) is an unbelievable coach. Second, he is an unbelievable person, but I think even the board are giving him a lot of confidence.

“But the work we are putting in with him day-by-day, the ideas, the hunger, the mentality – everything comes from him and us together.

“I think after this, we deserve maybe more than just the league. We have some more games to play and we want more than that now.”

Alonso sticks to his guns to make Leverkusen history

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Xabi Alonso ends recent speculation linking him to Liverpool and Bayern Munich by committing his future to Bayer Leverkusen

Sky Sports’ Ron Walker:

“Alonso was never meant to become Bayer Leverkusen head coach, if media reports were to be believed.

“He was strongly touted as the next Borussia Monchengladbach manager while still in charge of Real Sociedad B in 2021, but instead turned his attention back to his development and signed a new deal in northern Spain.

“A year later he felt ready to move on and took the plunge for his first senior role as Leverkusen coach.

“One win from his opening four games hinted at a tough adjustment, but Alonso and his players soon came to know one another – and 46 points from his 26 matches would have almost been enough for a Champions League spot if extrapolated over the course of the season.

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Bayer Leverkusen have achieved what was long considered impossible… ousting champions FC Bayern München from their throne to become Bundesliga champions

“That offered expectation of more to come this season. But not this much. Leverkusen have not even finished as second-best since 2011.

“Even in their glory days of the late 1990s and early 2000s, crowned with a Champions League final appearance in 2002 with Michael Ballack pulling the strings, they never lifted the Bundesliga – though only goal difference denied them in 2000.

“Not every manager knows what’s best for them. Alonso bucks that trend. Who else would turn down Liverpool and Bayern Munich in the same year? It is that dispassionate ability to process which has got him to where he is. And what has put Bayer Leverkusen into the history books.”

What’s next?

Leverkusen, Bayern face English opposition again this week

After such a seismic weekend of Bundesliga games, both Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen take on English opposition in Europe this midweek for a place in the Champions League and Europa League semi-finals.

Bayern’s last chance for a trophy this season is the Champions League and they host Arsenal for the quarter-final second leg in Munich on Wednesday night, holding a 2-2 draw from the first leg in London.

Leverkusen, meanwhile, travel to David Moyes’ West Ham in the Europa League quarter-final second leg on Thursday night, leading 2-0 from the first leg.

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