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Former Real Madrid player Xabi Alonso working wonders as Bayer Leverkusen manager

The Basque manager took on the job of Bayer Leverkusen in the relegation zone and now the side are fighting for Europe.

The Basque manager took on the job of Bayer Leverkusen in the relegation zone and now the side are fighting for Europe.

It was all smiles around Bayern Munich until Xabi Alonso stepped in the middle of the road. The Bavarians came from knocking PSG out of the Champions League and were ready to distance themselves from Borussia Dortmund in the league; they were living in a state of seemingly endless euphoria and momentum. The along came Xabi Alonso.

It is worth remembering that Alonso took charge of Bayer Leverkusen when they were in the relegation zone and now they are fighting for a place in European competitions. With a total of 27 points still to play for, the team sit in 8th position and are just 3 points away from 6th (currently occupied by Eintracht Frankfurt) which would see them be granted access to continental tournaments.

Bayer Leverkusen celebrate their victory over Bayern.
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Bayer Leverkusen celebrate their victory over Bayern.RONALD WITTEKEFE

As well as this, Bayer are still active in the Europa League this season, where they are set to take on Union SG in the quarter-final round. In just half a year, Xabi Alonso has revolutionised both Bayer Leverkusen and the Bundesliga.

It was his Leverkusen side that put the sword to Bayern’s throat for the first time in over a month in a game which saw Nagelsmann’s side give up top spot in the league to Dortmund. It’s all Xabi Alonso’s fault that the nerves have come back to the Allianz Arena.

“I’ve hardy ever seen something like this”, said the Bayern Munich sporting director, Hasan Salihamidzic, after the final whistle went in the BayerArena. “We got everything wrong and were battered by a team that played on Thursday. Today we were worse in every aspect of the game. This is not Bayern. There was hardly any fight, mentality and battling. This team is good when the mentality is there from the start, but it’s just as bad when they don’t show a good mentality and they think they can do everything just by being good”, he said as he threw his players under the bus.

Xabi Alonso has impressed since his arrival in Germany.
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Xabi Alonso has impressed since his arrival in Germany.RONALD WITTEKEFE

With just 9 games to go in the league season, Bayern are worried that this could be their first title miss in a long time. If they lose against Dortmund after the international break (1 April), 4 points will separate the two sides and Dortmund will move closer to their first title since 2012. “We all know how to look at the table. We’ve all seen how we performed today. We have to beat Dortmund to be able to go back to a 2 point gap”, said Kimmich after the game.

One of the secrets in the machine created by Alonso is the figure of Andrich, a midfielder that Alonso has moulded into a líbero. “We were analysing a lot and thinking about what we could do. From there we wanted a flexible player that could play both in defence and midfield. Rob has done incredibly well in how he has understood and adapted to the position. I think he has enjoyed it”, the Spanish manager said after beating his old club.

Bundesliga 2022/2023

*Data updated to date Mar 21st, 2023