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Europa League: England welcomes champions Leverkusen with respect

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Europa League: England welcomes champions Leverkusen with respect

As of: April 18, 2024 10:08 a.m

Bayer Leverkusen’s “historic title win” (The Guardian) did not go unnoticed in England either.

Numerous English journalists were at the BayArena during the Werkself’s 5-0 win against Werder Bremen on Sunday to report on a “magical afternoon in Leverkusen” (The Times) and how coach Xabi Alonso’s team “did the job Done in style” (BBC) to become German champions for the first time in the club’s history.

Quarterfinals arrow right West Ham – Leverkusen, Thursday 9 p.m. arrow right

People on the island are also happy that a club other than FC Bayern Munich is becoming champion, says Hendrik Buchheister. “An underdog story is always well received here,” said the sports journalist who lives in England. “Even if Leverkusen is of course not a classic underdog – keyword: factory club.” In England there is no fear of contact with external donors and investors anyway.

On Wednesday, Leverkusen embarked on its first trip abroad as the newly crowned German champions and was departed from Cologne-Bonn Airport before departing for London, where the club will face West Ham United in the quarter-final second leg of the Europa League on Thursday evening (9 p.m.). greeted with great congratulations on the scoreboards.

Great importance for the annual ranking

After the safe 2-0 win with a dominant performance in the first leg, it is also known on the island how strong this Leverkusen team is in international comparison. Also because the Bundesliga, which is sometimes derogatorily referred to as the “Farmers League” in England, is currently in a neck-and-neck race with the English Premier League in the race for a fifth Champions League starting place. The direct duels between Bayern Munich against Arsenal and Leverkusen against West Ham are particularly important.

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Fifth Champions League place? View of Bavaria and Leverkusen arrow on the right

Focus on the Europa League

The Werkself have long since focused entirely on the Europa League, especially since the decision was made in the league and the DFB Cup final will not take place until after the end of the season. Against Bremen on Sunday, Alonso initially put his three best scorers, Alejandro Grimalo, Jeremie Frimpong and Florian Wirtz, who shone with a hat trick after being substituted on at half-time, on the substitutes’ bench in order to rest his undisputed regular players for the difficult game in London.

“We always had three goals in mind,” says Leverkusen’s sports director Simon Rolfes. “We’ve reached one goal, but not two yet. That’s why we’re continuing.” One day after the celebrations surrounding the title win, the team was once again fully focused on the second leg against West Ham and the chance of reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League.

Simon Rolfes – “Focused on the game again” arrow right

Next record within reach

Bayer could also set another record in London. If the Werkself remain unbeaten in the 44th competitive game of the season, that would be a new record in Europe’s top leagues. With the win against Bremen at the weekend, the Bundesliga club drew level with the previous record holder Juventus Turin, who remained undefeated in 43 games across all competitions from May 2011 to 2012.

“We expect a difficult game,” said Alonso on Wednesday, referring to the “Hammers” duel against SC Freiburg in the round of 16, when the Londoners trumped a 0-1 defeat in the first leg with a brilliant 5-0 win in the second leg. “West Ham know how to turn a game around.” Bayer wants to play its own game and is “not there just to defend.”

Alonso viewed in England

The Spaniard enjoys a high reputation in England, not least because of his successful time as a player at Liverpool FC, and was actually expected back there soon. “People here were pretty sure that he was going to Liverpool, but they seem to be slowly understanding what appeals to him about staying at Bayer,” says Buchheister.

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For Alonso’s counterpart, West Ham team manager David Moyes, Leverkusen is one of the “best teams in Europe”. It was “a great achievement to win the league, so congratulations to them,” said the 60-year-old before the game.

Xhaka expects “special European Cup night”

Leverkusen’s midfield strategist Granit Xhaka, who played for Arsenal in London last season, sees “all the ingredients for a special European Cup night.” The championship won is no longer an issue within the team. “We all talked enough about last Sunday, we deservedly became champions, but there wasn’t too much to celebrate because we still want to achieve something,” said the Swiss. “We are fit and want to play a good game.”

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