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Xabi Alonso: Leverkusen Hero On Bayern & Liverpool ‘Wish list’

Xabi Alonso’s Remarkable Transformation of Bayer Leverkusen

Xabi Alonso has been a revelation at Bayer Leverkusen this season, transforming the Bundesliga side from 17th place to contenders for both the German Cup and the Europa League. Rafael Honigstein, The Athletic’s German football writer, discusses this remarkable turnaround on The Athletic Football Podcast with host Ayo Akinwolere.

Leverkusen’s Unbeaten Streak and Tactical Flexibility

Under Alonso’s guidance, Leverkusen has achieved an unbeaten streak of 31 games in all competitions. Honigstein highlights the versatility in their gameplay, saying, “They can dominate possession but also play really well and effectively on the break.” This adaptability has been crucial in their ascent to the top of the Bundesliga.

Changing the Club’s Mentality

Alonso’s impact isn’t just tactical; he’s also instilled a winning mentality, a shift from Leverkusen’s reputation as a ‘soft spot’ in the league. Honigstein adds, “His winning mentality… has rubbed off on them.”

Leverkusen’s Young Squad and Beautiful Football

Jack Pitt-Brook, also on the podcast, admires the mix of youth and experience in Leverkusen’s squad. He notes, “It’s quite remarkable how quickly he’s been able to get these lads on side and play also a beautiful version of football.”

Leverkusen’s Victory Over Bayern Munich

The podcast delves into Leverkusen’s 3-0 defeat of Bayern Munich. Honigstein remarks on Jonathan Tah’s post-match comments, indicating that Bayern’s respect for Leverkusen was evident in their lineup. This win signifies a shift in the Bundesliga power dynamics, with Leverkusen no longer intimidated by Bayern’s historic dominance.

Bayern Munich’s Current Struggles

The conversation shifts to Bayern’s challenges, with Thomas Müller expressing frustration at his team’s lack of performance. Honigstein analyses this, suggesting managerial responsibilities in motivating players and the need for leadership within the team.

Xabi Alonso’s Future Prospects

The podcast also touches on Alonso’s future, with his success at Leverkusen putting him on Bayern Munich’s radar. Honigstein says, “He’s done enough in those two years to put himself at the very top of the wish list.” However, the possibility of him joining Liverpool is also discussed, considering his ties to the club and the attractive, long-term support at Liverpool compared to Bayern’s short-term approach.

Xabi Alonso’s work at Bayer Leverkusen stands as a testament to his coaching prowess, transforming a struggling team into a formidable force in German football. His tactical flexibility, ability to instill a winning mentality, and rapid success have not only rejuvenated Leverkusen but also put him in the spotlight for future opportunities at clubs like Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

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