40 games unbeaten, 3 trophies in play. Leverkusen is at the business end of its season

AP , Thursday 4 Apr 2024

Forty games unbeaten, and a historic treble is still on. Bayer Leverkusen and Xabi Alonso are having a remarkable season.

Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen s Moroccan forward #21 Amine Adli (2L) celebrates scoring with his teammates during the German Cup (DFB-Pokal) semi-final football match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Fortuna Duesseldorf in Leverkusen, western Germany on April 3, 2024. AFP

 

After Bayern Munich coach Thomas Tuchel conceded in the Bundesliga title race last week, Leverkusen is 13 points ahead with seven games remaining and can take another stride toward its first league trophy on Saturday against Union Berlin. There's even the prospect of being the first club ever to have an unbeaten season in the Bundesliga.

Wednesday's 4-0 win against Fortuna Duesseldorf in the German Cup semifinals left Leverkusen 90 minutes away from another trophy in next month's final. Alonso's team also faces West Ham in the Europa League quarterfinals next week.

Here is a look at some of the key milestones in Leverkusen's unbeaten season so far:

GAME 2: BAYER LEVERKUSEN 3-2 LEIPZIG
 

The season-opener was a leisurely 8-0 romp past fourth-division Teutonia Ottensen in the cup, before the first game of the league season showed Leverkusen's Bundesliga credentials with goals from Jeremie Frimpong, Jonathan Tah and Florian Wirtz. Leipzig hoped to start the season as a title contender after stunning Bayern in the German Super Cup. It turned out to be Leverkusen's season instead.

GAME 5: BAYERN MUNICH 2-2 BAYER LEVERKUSEN
 

Exequiel Palacios leveled the score with a stoppage-time penalty to show Leverkusen's Bundesliga title challenge could be for real. Late goals have become a speciality for Leverkusen under Alonso.

GAME 20: BAYER LEVERKUSEN 1-1 BORUSSIA DORTMUND
 

After drawing with Bayern, Leverkusen went on a 14-game winning run in all competitions and showed it was no overnight success. Dortmund came closest to ending the unbeaten streak in December but Victor Boniface's 13th league goal leveled the score.

GAME 31 BAYER LEVERKUSEN 3-0 BAYERN MUNICH
 

This was the game that turned Leverkusen from a title contender into the hot favorite to end Bayern's streak of titles. Alonso's players didn't just beat Bayern, they did it convincingly, barely allowing the champion a shot at goal. Alonso also got the better of Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel in terms of tactics, switching to a back four from his usual back three. The win put Leverkusen five points clear of Bayern, a gap which has only widened since.

GAME 36: BAYER LEVERKUSEN 3-2 QARABAG (5-4 AGGREGATE)
 

The team that came closest to breaking Leverkusen's unbeaten record was something of a surprise. Azerbaijani club Qarabag came within minutes of winning both legs of their Europa League last-16 clash as the packed calendar took its toll. Still, Leverkusen held on and drew the first game 2-2, winning the second 3-2, both times on stoppage-time goals from Patrik Schick.

GAME 39: BAYER LEVERKUSEN 2-1 HOFFENHEIM
 

Czech striker Schick did it again last week with another late winner against Hoffenheim, as Leverkusen marked Alonso's announcement the day before that he was staying with the team amid links to Bayern and Liverpool. On the same day, Bayern dropped more points, prompting Tuchel to admit he no longer believed his team could win the title.

GAME 40: BAYER LEVERKUSEN 4-0 FORTUNA DUESSELDORF
 

Leverkusen fans can dream of a league and cup double after Wednesday's win to reach the German Cup final, with two goals from Wirtz. “In each game we see a really grown-up Flo. He's there at the key moments and takes responsibility,” Alonso said of the 20-year-old Wirtz. Top scorer Boniface returned from injury after last playing for Leverkusen in December.

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