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Bayer Leverkusen, under the guidance of Xabi Alonso, have made a remarkable start to their new campaign.
- Updated: August 21, 2023
In the lead-up to the Bundesliga kick-off, they triumphed over Marseille and West Ham in pre-season encounters, and then clinched a victory against RB Leipzig, who had secured the Supercup. The team’s early successes also included an emphatic 8-0 triumph over Teutonia Ottensen in the DFB Cup’s first round, contributing to a growing sense of optimism at the BayArena.
Leverkusen’s dominant performance against West Ham, even though it was a preparatory match, carries weight, considering that the Hammers were victors of the UEFA Conference League in the previous season. Notably, the sale of Moussa Diaby to Aston Villa and the injury challenges faced by Patrik Schick might have raised concerns about Leverkusen’s attacking depth. However, the acquisitions of Victor Boniface and Jonas Hofmann, both skilled in the final third, have provided a remedy.
In the recent victory over Leipzig, Boniface’s low cross enabled Jeremie Frimpong to score the opening goal, and Hofmann’s corner led to Jonathan Tah’s headed goal, securing a 2-0 advantage. Florian Wirtz’s goal, nestled between strikes by Dani Olmo and Lois Openda, ensured a convincing win, although the 3-2 scoreline might not fully reflect the team’s dominance.
Despite reported interest from English Premier League clubs, Frimpong and Tah chose to remain with Leverkusen, and they were joined by Granit Xhaka, the former Arsenal captain, as well as Alex Grimaldo from Benfica. The seamless integration of Xhaka into the squad underscores Alonso’s commendable work in swiftly reshaping the team into a cohesive unit.
Xhaka’s contributions were notable against Paris Saint-Germain-owned youngster Xavi Simons, who was substituted off for Kevin Kampl after a mere hour of play. Xhaka, having previously played for Borussia Mönchengladbach, is evidently relishing his return to the Bundesliga.
Speaking about his return, Xhaka expressed his enthusiasm for the Bundesliga: “The Bundesliga is always attractive. I know because I was here for four years, and I know how the Premier League is. To be back myself, and with Harry Kane as well, is something the Bundesliga can be proud about. We’ll try to give our best to make the Bundesliga as exciting as possible.”
While equating himself with Harry Kane, who had a successful Bundesliga debut with Bayern Munich, might appear ambitious, there’s no denying the positive impact that Xhaka’s experience can have on his teammates, such as Exequiel Palacios and even the young talent Florian Wirtz, elevating their performance levels.
By- Sahiba Suri