Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga reign has at closing met its match: Leverkusen

LEVERKUSEN - Alejandro Grimaldo of Bayer 04 Leverkusen celebrates the 2-0 during the Bundesliga match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Bayern Munchen at DE Bay Arena on February 10, 2024 in Leverkusen, Germany. ANP | Hollandse Hoogte | GERRIT VAN COLOGNE (Photo by ANP via Getty Images)

Bayer Leverkusen gamers like an even time their second purpose against Bayern Munich in Saturday’s high-of-the-Bundesliga conflict. (Picture by ANP by Getty Photos)

In Germany, for a long time, they’ve been is named Neverkusen, a team defined by “almost,” a membership resigned to “no longer somewhat.” They weren’t supposed to lead the uprising. As Bayern Munich reigned, strengthening its grip on the Bundesliga, a success 9, 10, 11 straight titles, they, Bayer Leverkusen, like been a ways-off, absent. They watched from afar as Bayern every every now and then stumbled; but at any time when the door crept ajar, they like been nowhere to be found.

Except 2023-24. Except the Leverkusen Revolution. Except now.

Leverkusen beat Bayern 3-0 at the BayArena on Saturday. But they did no longer stun the perennial champs. This became as soon as no longer an upset. It became as soon as the entirety Leverkusen has constructed toward under head coach Xabi Alonso. And it became as soon as the firmest expression yet of an announcement that can startle and lope all of European soccer.

Bayern Munich’s reign has, at closing, met its match.

Saturday’s take took Leverkusen 5 aspects certain at the terminate of the Bundesliga. The proverbial door is delivery, with 13 video games to head. But no longer because Bayern has faltered. The champs entered Saturday’s match on tempo for 85 aspects, their fourth-most efficient tally ever. The door is purely ajar because Leverkusen has forcibly opened it.

Alonso and undervalued gamers like opened it with flowing, shape-shifting football. They’ve no longer lost in 31 video games this season, across three varied competitions, in fragment because they’re complicated to voice. They high-tail and transfer love Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. They shield and counter love Jose Mourinho’s 2012 Staunch Madrid.

They did all of that and more on Saturday. Florian Wirtz, a reborn wunderkind, exploded by midfield in the 18th minute, and almost space up a Leverkusen opener. Bayern’s Dayot Upamecano in the end scraped away a terrible rebound. But Leverkusen took the following throw-in rapid, and caught the champions off guard.

Sacha Boey, Bayern’s most fresh solution to an destroy crisis at fullback, fell asleep at the a ways put up.

Josip Stanišić, a fullback deemed surplus by Bayern and loaned out to Leverkusen over the summer, snuck in the attend of Boey and save the hosts forward of his guardian membership.

Leverkusen had much less of the ball but more of the prospects at some stage in 90 minutes. They’d eight photographs on purpose to Bayern’s one, and 1.5 Expected Targets (xG) to Bayern’s 0.6. They by no technique as soon as looked love they’d lose a sport that their membership, at some stage in its historical past, had practically by no technique won. They doubled their lead 5 minutes after halftime, and buried second thoughts.

They punctuated a notorious soak up stoppage time. After which they partied.

They’re wholly unencumbered by mess ups of the past. They’re nothing more, nothing decrease than a wonderful soccer team.

Wirtz and others weren’t even alive when the Neverkusen mark began to stay, around the turn of the century. Leverkusen settled for four second-save finishes in a span of six Bundesliga seasons beginning save in 1996, ending in 2002. In 2000, the membership’s most efficient-ever team reached the Champions League closing and DFB Pokal closing — but lost each.

So that they grew to alter into Vizekusen — runner-up-kusen. They have not won a trophy of any sort since. And they’ve by no technique won the Bundesliga.

Their overlord, on the choice hand, Bayern Munich, had won 11 consecutive titles. In some of these 11 seasons, Bayern lagged but no one capitalized. In others, the so-called Rekordmeister ran a ways from the pack. And this, 2023-24, with out blueprint back would possibly like been the latter.

Bayern, despite injuries and precise pessimistic chatter, took 50 aspects from its first 20 video games, the sixth-most efficient tempo in league historical past. Its underlying numbers like been these of a tyrant, a dominant power, an untouchable ruler. They like been better than 2017-18, when Bayern topped the league by 21 aspects. They like been better than every season since, every of which ended with a familiar .

But along came Alonso and Leverkusen, who’ve been even better. With shrewd summer signings — at the side of Granit Xhaka from Arsenal and Victor Boniface from Union Saint-Gilloise in Belgium — they’ve change into a versatile machine. They can can stifle opponents and blitz them. Or they’ll lull opponents to sleep in possession, unbalancing them with the ball, stringing together patient assaults that tickle purists and high-tail viral — even when the clips stem from friendlies.

They’ve proven persona, over and over all yet again, coming from in the attend of to take and nab aspects. They stole two from Bayern attend in September, with a 94th-minute equalizer. They returned from winter destroy to take attend-to-attend video games in stoppage time.

Some like advised that their dull heroics like been unsustainable. That their underlying numbers would possibly predict regression. That their lead became as soon as slim and the spring became as soon as lengthy, lengthy ample for Bayern to upward thrust, because it continually does.

But Saturday squashed all fears and hesitancy. The Bundesliga driver’s seat is Leverkusen’s. The king has been pulled from his throne, with only three months to enhance it.

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