Xabi Alonso ‘honoured’ to lead Bayer Leverkusen to first Bundesliga title

By Sports Desk April 14, 2024

Xabi Alonso said it was an honour to manage Bayer Leverkusen to their first Bundesliga title after the runaway leaders clinched the trophy in style with a 5-0 victory over Werder Bremen.

Leverkusen were crowned German champions for the first time in their 120-year history with a dominant win which saw Florian Wirtz net a second-half hat-trick at an ecstatic BayArena.

Victor Boniface had opened the scoring from the penalty spot before Granit Xhaka doubled the lead with a long-range effort.

Alonso, who committed his future to Leverkusen after being linked with former clubs Liverpool and Bayern Munich earlier this season, lauded the “special” achievement after winning his first major trophy in management.

“This success is special for everyone, for the entire club. It belongs to so many people,” the 42-year-old Spaniard said after the match, as reported by Kicker.

“We have to enjoy winning this for the entire club. The first championship in 120 years. It’s an honour to be part of it and working here. Today we deserve to celebrate, with family, friends and fans.”

Leverkusen remain unbeaten during a fairy-tale campaign which could yet yield even more silverware.

They hold a 2-0 first-leg lead over West Ham in the Europa League quarter-finals – the second leg takes place in London on Thursday – and also have a DFB Pokal final against Kaiserslautern to look forward to next month.

“It may not be the last party of the current season,” Alonso added.

“We still have a big goal in the Europa League. We have a good chance to be in the semi-finals and also in the cup, the feeling is incredible.”

Boniface opened the scoring against Werder with a 25th-minute penalty before former Arsenal captain Xhaka made it 2-0 on the hour.

Wirtz then took centre stage, adding a third in the 68th minute to all but end any doubts about the result or title, before the 20-year-old completed his hat-trick with two more goals in the closing stages.

Wirtz said: “It’s indescribable. I can’t even realise it yet. I need to be in the dressing room for a while to get my head around what we’ve achieved.”

Fellow Germany international Jonas Hofmann, who joined Leverkusen last summer from Borussia Monchengladbach, added: “Everything really flows through the body. You don’t know: should you laugh? Should you cry? It’s really indescribable, I wouldn’t have dreamed of this a year ago, in the first year to do it straight away. That’s just awesome.

“We constantly pushed ourselves to the limit every game, no matter who was playing. We were always there, always present.

“This season you can see that everyone is needed so that the level doesn’t (drop) off. Then you’ll be able to play like that in three competitions. The coach is setting a brutal example of that.”

Leverkusen’s success ends Bayern’s 11-year reign as German champions, with Borussia Dortmund back in 2012 the last team to deny them top spot.

Bayern, who are currently a massive 16 points behind Leverkusen after a largely disappointing season for Thomas Tuchel’s side, were quick to applaud the new title winners.

“Congratulations to Bayer Leverkusen on a historic first Bundesliga title in the club’s history,” Bayern president Herbert Hainer said.

“The title goes absolutely deservedly to Leverkusen – it’s the reward for an outstanding season and great football.

Bayern chief executive Jan-Christian Dreesen added: “They’ve had a flawless season so far, the team have demonstrated courage, class and above all consistency, and that’s why they deserve to be 2024 German champions.”

Related items

  • Guardiola: Foden can still get better after Player of the Year award Guardiola: Foden can still get better after Player of the Year award

    Pep Guardiola thinks Phil Foden can still get better, after the 23-year-old winning the Premier League’s Player of the Year.

    Foden has been a pivotal part of City’s title challenge this season, scoring 17 goals and providing eight assists in the top-flight in 2023-24.

    It is the youngster’s most prolific scoring season for City, while only six players have bettered Foden’s goal haul in the Premier League.

    When asked about the strides that Foden has made this season, leading him to the award, Guardiola praised the England international’s influence on the squad.

    "Obviously, he makes a step forward as a football player. In terms of minutes or time, but he's decisive in winning games," Guardiola said.

    "Maybe before it was a glimpse of action, but now it's consistent. That is the truth, but they still have a margin. Sometimes his game is overexcited, it's over, and you have to be more calm because his excitement he has for himself, but we'll have question of time, but this season has been really, really important. Really, really important."

    Foden has bettered his tally of 11 goals from last season and leads City’s squad for chances created this campaign with 68.

    "He's moving forward, but I had the feeling he can be better, and I think he can do it because I've said many times, that he loves football," Guardiola added.

    "He enjoys being on the pitch, and I think the feeling doesn't like when you have the day off.

    "He likes to be in the training session doing less or more and I had the feeling it still can be better."

    Manchester City can win a fourth-consecutive Premier League title on Sunday against West Ham, if they can match or better Arsenal's result.

  • Objectives met: Shabazz pleased with Golden Jaguars' showing despite losses to T&T Objectives met: Shabazz pleased with Golden Jaguars' showing despite losses to T&T

    Despite losing both friendly encounters to Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana senior men’s Head coach Jamaal Shabazz says their objectives were met, as the players that made the trip to the twin island republic gained invaluable experience that will assist to shape their future in the sport.

    The Golden Jaguars lost 1-2 and 0-2 to Angus Eve’s Soca Warriors at the Crawford Stadium, in Port of Spain, but for Shabazz, the fixtures served their purpose of gauging the readiness of players, who competed in recently concluded Round One of the KFC Elite League Season, especially with the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers scheduled to get under way next month.

    “We did not win, but a lot of questions were answered as to who is ready to move into our full international squad. We achieved our other objectives. We got higher level match practice for the likes of Daniel Wilson, Kelsey Benjamin, Curtez Kellman, Colin Nelson and Ryan Hackett, all of whom travel with our first team. We gave valuable exposure to players like Marcus Tudor, Simeon Moore, Chris Macey and Stephen McDonald, just to name a few,” Shabazz shared.

    “It is clear that player for player we were able to match our opponents. Some boys gave a good account of themselves, and some were a bit nervous. Most importantly, the lads would have learnt a few lessons for their future, like the margin for error at international level is small and the need for more composure in front of goal,” he added.

    Aside from those he mentioned, Shabazz also had three overseas-based players from Canada, France and the United States, in his 24-member squad, and by all indications, a few more might be assessed, as the tactician prepares to select his final squad for the qualifiers.

    Guyana will contest Group D of the qualifiers, alongside Panama, Montserrat, Belize and Nicaragua. They are set to open against Panama in Panama City on June 6, followed by the Belize encounter on June 11 in Barbados.

    Shabazz expressed gratitude for the continued support in gifting local-based players the opportunity to showcase their potential, and challenge for spots in the final squad.

    “I must thank the Government of Guyana and the Guyana Football Federation for enabling this exposure for the home-based players. At least twice a year we should get these types of matches for home-based players to develop,” Shabazz noted.

  • Guardiola: Other clubs have a chance to win the title against Man City Guardiola: Other clubs have a chance to win the title against Man City

    Pep Guardiola believes that other clubs do have the chance to win the Premier League while he is the Manchester City manager. 

    Guardiola has led the Citizens to five top-flight titles in his seven seasons in charge, including each of the last three in a row.

    They have the opportunity to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive Premier League campaign – they must match or better Arsenal’s result on the final day against West Ham to finish top of the table.

    Asked what he thought about the narrative that suggested other teams struggle to win the title while he is at City, Guardiola immediately brushed the idea aside.

    He said: "It is wrong, look at the margin. If every season I won by 20 points, then I would say yes I am a genius, I'm so good, but it's not.

    "The Premier League we won against Liverpool they could have won. Arsenal can win, we can win. It's like that.

    "My judgement about the team, about how we behave, nothing changed, nothing changed. My opinion of Liverpool this year has not changed, whether they have won or not won.

    "I know here there is just a prize for the winners and the winners smell good and everyone won a copy and everything, but it's not.

    "It's not the case because behind of arriving here in the last press conference of the season before the last game of the Premier League there are a lot of work, like Liverpool was and Arsenal have been this season."

    Guardiola was also quick to highlight the hard work of everybody at the club during their title challenge.

    "It's not because of what we have done in the past gives you this season, it's completely the opposite," he continued. 

    "There are a lot of work for all departments. How many my backroom staff, the medical department, the physio department, how they care all the seasons, every single few, few injuries.

    "Injuries are always there, but the balance is ridiculous, how good it is, and that's because there is a lot of work, they care about the players and the people, you know, every single day, hours and hours being above the players, you have to do this, you have to do this, you have to do this to be fit. So otherwise, we cannot be where we are."

    The City manager was also asked about his future at the club, and whether he would be continuing past the end of the season.

    "Yeah, I have a contract. I want to be here next season, yes," he added. 

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.