Unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen win first Bundesliga title, ending Bayern Munich’s 11-year

Leverkusen had finally shed its reputation as perennial runner-up after five second-place finishes in the league and one in the Champions League.

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Unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen win first Bundesliga title, ending Bayern Munich’s 11-yearUndefeated Bayer Leverkusen have secured their first Bundesliga title with a 5-0 victory over Werder Bremen, breaking an 11-year stranglehold on the league by Bayern Munich.

Xabi Alonso’s team, who have now gone a league-record 29 matches without defeat this season to secure their first trophy since 1993, have a 16-point lead over Bayern with five matches remaining.

Bayer Leverkusen’s record-breaking run to their first Bundesliga title was no fluke, with a 16-month plan coming to fruition.
The team made sure of their first trophy in 31 years with five matches left in the season, snapping Bayern Munich’s 11-year stranglehold on the Bundesliga.
Sunday’s 5-0 home victory over Werder Bremen further stretched Leverkusen’s Bundesliga record unbeaten run to 29 games – 25 wins and four draws to chalk up 79 points.
Coach Xabi Alonso took over a struggling Leverkusen side in October 2022 with the team second-bottom after eight Bundesliga games, having their worst start to a season since 1979.
After a few months it became clear the Spaniard had successfully injected a winning mentality, with his team racing up the table to finish in sixth place.
But it was during that rise in form in late 2022 when Alonso and the club set the foundations for this season’s success.
With all eyes on the World Cup in Qatar, club bosses in Leverkusen sat down with Alonso to map out their transfer plans and put them into action early.
By July 2023 Leverkusen had assembled their full squad and went into pre-season training with no late additions in August or September, as is regularly the case with most teams.
These transfers included experienced Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka, who added steel in midfield.
Also Germany international Jonas Hofmann, Alejandro Grimaldo, who provided nine goals and 11 assists as an attacking left-back having joined on a free transfer, and 23-year-old Nigeria striker Victor Boniface.
Leverkusen took the season by storm from the start, racking up 11 wins in their first 12 league matches,  with Boniface seemingly scoring at will with 10 goals and seven assists until his injury in January while on international duty.

 

They can add more titles this season, having reached the German Cup final and the Europa League quarterfinals, where they have a 2-0 first-leg advantage over West Ham United.

Leverkusen left nothing to chance and sealed their title win at the first opportunity with Florian Wirtz bagging a hat trick in a win that stretched their unbeaten run across all competitions to a remarkable 43 games this season.

“I cannot describe this,” Germany international Wirtz said. “I personally can still not realise this has happened. I will need a few moments in the changing room to understand what we have achieved.

“We could not have imagined something like this when you see how the previous season went.”

Xabi Alonso, who took over as coach when Leverkusen was in the relegation zone in October 2022, reflected on ending Bayern’s dominance.

“Perhaps it’s healthy for the Bundesliga, also for German football, for another team to win,” said Alonso, who won three Bundesliga titles with Bayern as a player from 2015-17.

 

“It’s a great joy and we have to enjoy it. We need a bit more time to realise what we’ve achieved. But it’s a super moment and yes, we’ll see what happens next,” Alonso said, referring to the other trophies that his team can win this season.

“But now is the time to celebrate.”

Victor Boniface – starting a Bundesliga game for the first time since December because of injury – settled Leverkusen’s nerves with the opening goal from the penalty spot before Granit Xhaka hit an audacious long-range shot to make it 2-0 with half an hour to go.

Bremen folded after that with substitute Wirtz scoring a goal very similar to Xhaka’s, then another on the counter in the 83rd minute, then a third to end the game, his first career hat trick.

Fans had already stormed onto the field when Leverkusen scored its fourth goal with seven minutes to go, and the final minutes were played in thick red smoke from supporters’ pyrotechnics while players on Leverkusen’s bench clapped along to songs, danced and hugged one another.

The fifth goal in the 90th minute brought more fans onto the field – hundreds this time – and the referee ended the game amid confusion and jubilation. Thousands of supporters crowded the field, waving flags, flares and cardboard copies of the Bundesliga trophy.

Leverkusen had finally shed its reputation as perennial runner-up after five second-place finishes in the league and one in the Champions League.

The title puts the spotlight firmly on an industrial city of just under 170,000, which has been overshadowed by larger, more famous neighbours.

“Not in Cologne and Dusseldorf, no, we’re at home here,” is the third line of the club song played just before kick-off.

The club started as a workers’ team for the Bayer pharmaceutical giant 120 years ago and is a rare exception in Germany, where most clubs are majority controlled by members under the so-called 50+1 rule.