Xabi Alonso adamant Bayer Leverkusen’s attention is on West Ham clash

By Sports Desk April 10, 2024

Xabi Alonso insists Bayer Levekusen’s focus is solely on West Ham on Thursday night despite a potentially historic weekend on the horizon.

Leverkusen, unbeaten in all 41 of their matches this season, look set to wrap up a first Bundesliga title on Saturday or Sunday.

All they need to do is match Bayern Munich’s result to be confirmed as champions.

Should Bayern lose to Cologne then Leverkusen will be crowned as title winners without having to kick a ball.

Either way, Alonso’s side will claim the title if they beat Werder Bremen at home on Sunday afternoon.

But Leverkusen are still in the hunt for a treble – they are already in the German Cup final – and first up is the Europa League quarter-final first leg against the Hammers.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Alonso said: “We know what West Ham can do. They have experience in Europe, last season they were champions of the Conference League.

“We want to go further and starting tomorrow and then next week in London, we have to play to our own game. We are ready.”

Former Liverpool midfielder Alonso was reportedly among the contenders to replace Jurgen Klopp as Anfield boss.

But the 42-year-old Spaniard has opted to stay at the BayArena, a decision which has thrilled the players according to defender Jeremie Frimpong.

“Everyone has a good feeling,” he said. “We love the coach and we are happy, you see it on the pitch. We simply have this great connection.”

Leverkusen reached the semi-finals of the same competition last season, but were edged out 1-0 on aggregate by Roma.

“When we lost last season in the Europa League semi-final it was difficult, but this season is different, we don’t like losing,” added Frimpong.

“It’s the quarter-finals so we are obviously excited for tomorrow. It’s what football is about, playing against the top teams so we are looking forward to it.”

West Ham have a major doubt over top scorer Jarrod Bowen for the match in Germany, but Leverkusen have also been dealt an injury blow in attack.

They will have to manage without striker Adam Hlozek, who injured his left ankle in the first half of Saturday’s 1-0 win away to Union Berlin.

Related items

  • 'No chance' of swapping Champions League for Ballon d'Or, says Silva 'No chance' of swapping Champions League for Ballon d'Or, says Silva

    Bernardo Silva admits he prefers team awards over individual honours and would choose the Champions League over a Ballon d’Or if given the chance.

    Silva was a key figure as Manchester City retained their Premier League title for an unprecedented fourth consecutive season, making 33 appearances in the competition.

    The midfielder chipped in with six goals during their title charge, adding nine assists, while also scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup semi-final – a competition they ultimately lost to Manchester United.

    Since joining City in July 2017, Silva has won 13 major honours, including six Premier League trophies, two FA Cups, a Champions League, and the Club World Cup.

    The Portugal international was ranked the eighth-best men’s player of 2023, but when asked about the subject, he admitted that he does not rate individual awards as highly as those won by a team.

    "Recognition is always nice," he told Sky Sports.

    "In my opinion, I give the right amount of importance to these awards, because, at the end of the day, we are playing a collective sport. Nowadays, the individual awards always go to the strikers because they have that last touch.

    "But if you understand the game, a person who is inside the game, either a player or a manager, you know how important it is to have a proper goalkeeper, a proper defender, a proper midfielder and a proper striker. Not just a proper striker.

    "Strikers do not win you titles alone. The base comes from defence. If you defend well, you will attack better. When I look at individual awards and I see that only the guys who score goals win the awards, I feel a bit like it does not represent our sport that well.

    "I always do my best to support my team-mates and do what is best for the team. In the end, winning the Champions League is much better than winning a Ballon d'Or. I would not swap it. No chance."

    Silva’s attention now turns to Euro 2024 as Portugal aim to challenge for their second title in the competition.

    The 29-year-old missed their success in 2016 due to injury, and he concedes there was a "mix of emotions" at seeing Portugal win their first major tournament while not being able to have an impact.

    He said: "I was so frustrated before the competition for not going because I wanted to be a part of it. I did all the qualifying. It would have been my first big tournament, and I would have been there, but I got injured.

    "But then, in the end, when they won it, I am Portuguese. Everyone was so happy; all my family, all my friends, everyone. So, it was a mix of frustration for not being there but also being very happy because it was our first big title as a country."

    However, Silva is up for the challenge of competing in the 2024 edition.

    "You are representing your whole country, your family and friends. We are all human. You are going to feel [the pressure] more. Playing for Portugal is always a bit different and special," he added.

    "If you love the game, you want to do it well. And if you want to do something well, you feel that responsibility. That is why you feel pressure. In a way, that pressure is a good thing. It is your mind and your body telling you that you want this.

    "It is up to you to try to control these emotions."

    Portugal begin their Euro 2024 campaign in Group F against the Czech Republic on June 18.

  • Andrich and Tah have 'greed and hunger' for Germany success after Leverkusen exploits Andrich and Tah have 'greed and hunger' for Germany success after Leverkusen exploits

    Robert Andrich and Jonathan Tah highlighted their "greed and hunger for another title", as the Bayer Leverkusen duo target Euro 2024 glory with Germany.

    Tah and Andrich enjoyed a memorable 2023-24 season with Leverkusen, winning the club's first ever Bundesliga title and the DFB-Pokal, with their only defeat across all competitions coming against Atalanta in the Europa League final.

    Xabi Alonso's side completed the double with victory over Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal final at Berlin's Olympic Stadium last time out. 

    Andrich is desperately hoping for a swift return to the same venue, where the Euro 2024 showpiece will be played on June 14, and for further silverware to follow.

    "We have this greed, the hunger for another title," the midfielder said. "I think that [German Cup final] was very special for me - the Olympic stadium, training there, playing the final. These are special moments, more special than in other matches.

    "You cannot buy these memories and this gives you a boost to play there again."

    Team-mate Tah concurred: "I would say the double win definitely puts wind in your sails. With a lot of greed, we want to keep being successful and play the entire year successfully.

    "After a few days, our batteries will again be fully loaded. We are looking forward to the tournament, which is special for all of us, so the batteries kind of charge themselves because of that."

    Germany launch the tournament against Scotland on June 14, while Julian Nagelsmann's side will also face Hungary and Switzerland in Group A.

  • Kompany wants to see 'real winners come to life' at Bayern Kompany wants to see 'real winners come to life' at Bayern

    Vincent Kompany challenged Bayern Munich to bounce back from their 2023-24 disappointment, and wants to see which players are "most hungry to win again".

    The Belgian was named Bayern's new boss on a three-year deal, replacing the outgoing Thomas Tuchel following a trophyless campaign at the Allianz Arena.

    The Bavarian giants surrendered their 11-year grip on the Bundesliga title to Xabi Alonso's unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen, while Real Madrid defeated them in the Champions League semi-finals.

    Kompany knows what it takes to respond in the face of adversity, with Manchester City coming up just short against the likes of Manchester United in the Premier League in between the four titles he won during his time with the Citizens. 

    And he has urged his new squad to demonstrate that character and determination to get back in the winner's circle next season.

    "We're in a situation now where, last year, we lost," he told reporters during his introductory press conference. 

    "Having been in this position myself as well as a player, I know that this is when you react, this is where you see real winners come to life.

    "I'm actually excited to start pre-season with them. I make no distinction; I just want to see which players are most hungry to represent this club next season and win again, and be successful.

    Kompany's appointment earlier this week was widely reported as a surprise one, after he was unable to keep Burnley in the Premier League in 2023-24.

    However, the 38-year-old insists he has already settled into his new surroundings.

    "My mentality is that I never haven't ever worked for a top club in my head," he added. 

    "A top club is the environment you create. It's the mentality you have towards your job in good and bad times, that's what defines working at the top level. It already feels like home."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.