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Title breakthrough has Alonsos Leverkusen hungry for more

Published : Thursday, 18 April, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 124

LEVERKUSEN, APRIL 17: Hours after sealing Bayer Leverkusens maiden Bundesliga title win, coach Xabi Alonso told thousands of delirious fans "we want more", laying down a marker in pursuit of a remarkable treble.

"We want more. We want the (German) Cup, we want Europa League," the 42-year-old said over the stadium PA to thousands of Leverkusen fans after his side 43rd straight match without defeat.

With a German Cup final meeting with second-division Kaiserslautern already booked for May 25, Leverkusens next task is Thursdays trip to London to face West Ham in their Europa League quarter-final second leg.

Alonsos side hold a 2-0 lead after the first leg, meaning anything other than a stunning loss to David Moyes men will keep their treble dreams alive.

Sundays 5-0 win over Werder Bremen not only broke Bayern Munichs 11-year stranglehold on the German top-flight title, it flushed Leverkusens unwanted Neverkusen tag for good.

With two major titles in the clubs history before Sunday, Alonsos side can more than double their tally by completing the treble.

This season, Alonso has repeatedly said the club needed to be patient, even as the Bundesliga title grew more and more likely.
On Sunday, he pushed talk of Thursdays West Ham match away, saying: "Now is the moment to celebrate and enjoy it all."

If overturning a 2-0 deficit seems like a mountain to climb for West Ham, the stats speak even less in their favour.

Alonsos side have only failed to score once in 43 games this season and have laid on 123 goals at the other end.

West Ham have only kept one clean sheet in their past 18 fixtures -- although that did come against German opposition in their 5-0 drubbing of Freiburg in the last-16 second leg at the London Stadium.

Alonsos focus on the treble has been widely adopted by Leverkusens squad, with several players reminding fans that the season was not over on Sunday night.

Nigeria striker Victor Boniface, given a first start of 2024 after missing several months with a groin injury, echoed his coachs statements over the loudspeaker on Sunday.

"We want to say, thank you for your support from the beginning of the season -- and we still have two more finals to give you guys."

Despite his long absence, Boniface is Leverkusens top scorer this season, with 18 goals in all competitions.

Leverkusen seem to have all the ingredients not only for more success this season -- but to build an era.

Leverkusen CEO Fernando Carro, who took over the club in 2018 pledging to end the wait for a league title, on Thursday ruled out any big sales.

"The team and the coach have shown that they e greedy, that they want to keep winning and they don want to stop," he said.
"We want to keep going."    —AFP

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