The ‘Eternal Bridesmaid’ finally said YES after 120 years

Flowers bloomed along the banks of the Rhine, never more beautiful. Perfect for the most luxurious bride’s bouquet. Because the bride is finally in her wedding gown. She waited, suffered, and cried a river of tears. Now it’s time for historical words.YES, Deutsche Meister!!! And all this on the threshold of her 120th birthday!When one of the biggest Golgotha in the history of modern football happened at the end of the 2001/02 season, and when Bayer Leverkusen managed to gamble away the German championship title in just 19 days, lose the DFB Cup final and finally the Champions League to Real Madrid, the world media made a well-known nickname: Neverkusen.All this happened after second place in 1997 (two points less than Bayern Munich), and the vice-crown in 1999, and then perhaps the most famous one, a year later, since in the last round Werkself did not even manage to take a point from Unterhaching, remained without the throne as a result of goal difference, squandering a five-point advantage over Bayern in the last three rounds. The world media added another nickname: Everloosen.The last, fifth time, Leverkusen looked at the champions’ back in the spring of 2011. The world media then came up with the nickname: the Eternal Bridesmaide.No one in Germany or anywhere else on the planet believed that Bayer could be crowned.Leverkusen is a factory club, exempt from the special “50+1″ ownership rule, which is why fans in Germany literally despise the club. The only romantic thing about the club turned out to be the abovementioned curse, which meant that trophies eluded them for so many years in a row, but yesterday, Werkself is viewed somewhat differently. With 11 titles in a row, Bayern were getting a bit bored and a good part of the fan army across Germany believes that the ousting of the Bavarians is actually good for the future of the Bundesliga and the development of its popularity.But that’s another part of this story…🤩🏆 Bayer Leverkusen under Xabi Alonso this season:🏟️ 42 Games✅ 37 Wins🤝 5 Draws❌ 0 Loss⚽ 121 Goals scored📊 BUNDESLIGA CHAMPIONS! 🏆🇩🇪— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) April 14, 2024 For months now, Europe has been admiring Xabi Alonso and his boys. And less are there for the title itself. It’s a matter of how it was won. You can’t remember anyone, ever, leaving mighty Bayern in the dust like this—not Weissweiler’s, Latek’s Mönchengladbach, the best European Hamburger with Happel, or Klopp’s Dortmund.Theory and mathematics say that the giant from Munich struggled and somehow defended the crown until yesterday, however it was clear at the beginning of February, after the 3-0 in the derby, that the king was dead. And that it is time for new exciting pages in the history of German football…”Why didn’t I start working with seniors earlier? It’s simple. I thought I had to prepare, to learn a lot,” said Xabi Alonso calmly and logically during a promotion at the BayArena in October 2022, while Leverkusen languished in the penultimate place in the Bundesliga. “Yeah, I think I’m ready now. This is definitely the right time. And I think we have a great project ahead of us.”It seemed rather crazy to be talking about projects and long-term plans at a time when the team was desperately fighting for survival and just days after being knocked out of the cup by third-tier Elvesberg, but the Spaniard firmly believed in his philosophy and attitudes.”I have no doubt that we have quality, that we have the right team. And that we can build our own style. I was a midfielder, you know that. I want us to be in control. I will work on what I know best”.Xabi was also ready to further improve himself…”I don’t speak French, unfortunately, and there are a lot of players in the team who use that language. I have no choice – I will learn it”.As a player, he learned from Vicente de Bosque, Jose Mourinho, Rafael Benitez, Pep Guardiola… He won everything. He won everything more than once. The Champions League and the EURO and the World Cup. As a born winner, he managed to convince his players that they are ready to become winners.”We look at him and we see it in his eyes. That flame. It never disappears,” said Nathan Tella, one of the younger members of the championship-winning team. “The man brings out the best in us from game to game. Then you look at him and say to yourself: Wait, if he has that standard and desire to be at the top, why not us too?”Not everything went as planned for Alonso. After the debut victory against Schalke (4-0), followed a debacle against Frankfurt (5-1), then a mere 2-2 with Wolfsburg, then a defeat against Leipzig. The honeymoon was a little late, but when it happened it was clear that we had a new coaching gem on the big stage.Bayern hails the new champion, Alonso gets a beer showerAlonso turned the lost season into a more than decent one. Finished sixth and reached the semi-finals of the Europa League, where they were stopped by Roma.”It’s weird. Before every game in the locker room, he manages to convince us that we are better than our rivals, that we don’t want to lose and that we won’t lose. He instilled in us that wonderful self-confidence,” said Amin Adli recently.Captain Lukas Hradecky sees the game against Monaco last season as the key to the turnaround.”It was 5-5 after two matches and we won the penalty shoot out. It doesn’t matter that we were later relegated by Roma. Since Monaco, we have become a different team, different players”…And it is far from the fact that the Finnish goalkeeper does not know what he is talking about. Since that match in February last year, Bayer have been defeated only three times. The last time was almost a year ago, from Bochum.In the current season, record after record is falling. During the summer, Xabi pointed the finger, and sports director Simon Rolfes fulfilled all his wishes. Afterward, when the machine warmed up, Uli Hoenness commented:”It is obvious that Xabi has a set of players that suit him. However, they were also lucky with transfers. No one else saw Victor Boniface. They did. Also, I believe that few people knew who Alejandro Grimaldo was… You have to be very lucky when players come to a new country, to a new league, to a new club. It’s not quite normal that all of them have such an influence on the game.”Alonso was already asked the following weekend for a comment on everything Uli said. He was silent. He just smiled and wished the former club good luck in the next season.The first derby of the season with Bayern showed that Leverkusen can handle anyone. It ended 2-2. Exequiel Palacios equalized in stoppage time. The second derby was an ideal indicator that no one can compete with Leverkusen. It was the stomping of Bayern the likes of which you rarely see. In the end, 3-0 and a five-point gap in the Bundesliga table.The scenes after Bayer Leverkusen won their first ever Bundesliga title. Xabi Alonso has really made football history. This is incredible.— TC (@totalcristiano) April 14, 2024 “The coach explained to us that we play good football, that we are very strong and that there is no reason to be afraid of them,” Adli said. “He also told us that if we concede a goal, take it as if we conceded it from Hoffenheim or any other club. It took us 25 minutes to figure it out, and then we started playing.”In that second match, Bayern were reduced to xG 0.27. Ever since that statistical category became popular, the Bavarians have been no worse in that segment…”It’s only then we shyly started putting the word ‘title’ in our mouths,” says Meinolf Sprink, the former sporting director of Leverkusen. “However, we have failed too often in the past 25 years to be able to put ourselves in the role of favorites just like that. The wounds were still open, a lot of things were burning us still.”Bayer Leverkusen played one of the most difficult games on the way to the title in January in Leipzig…”We started unexpectedly passive. They put a lot of pressure on us. We couldn’t manage, because we are used to being dominant,” Jonathan Tah remembered. “We were losing 0-1 at halftime, and Bayern were at minud four points at the moment. The coach then entered the dressing room and said that we play the way we have played since the beginning of the season, even if we lost 5-0. That’s when we finally relaxed.”Lever equalized through Tella in the 47th minute, then Leipzig took the lead again, only for Tah and Piero Hincapie to direct a turnaround (91st minute).”You can be great for 80 minutes, but if you are not strong in the last 10, or if you fall apart in bad moments, in today’s football, it kills you,” repeated Xabi Alonso repeatedly during the spring, while his boys managed to precisely in those last ten minutes they make huge comebacks and rise from the dead.17 goals and 18 assists this season after getting an ACL injury at the age of 18. Scored a hat-trick on the day Bayer Leverkusen won the Bundesliga title for the first time ever. Florian Wirtz is incredible.— TC (@totalcristiano) April 15, 2024 They defeated Stuttgart in the DFB Cup in the 90th minute, scored three goals in stoppage time in the Europa League doubleheader against Qarabag, against Hoffenheim at the end of last month with goals in the 88th and 91st minutes, and defeated West Ham in the finish after Xabi Alonso’s great substitutes. He introduced Jonas Hoffmann and Victor Boniface, who brought a two-goal advantage before the second leg. Hoffman’s goal and assist, Boniface’s goal…Alonso’s coaching ethos is definitely a key component of this spectacular success. Likewise, there is no doubt that he built his coaching philosophy under the deep influence of his own playing career. Xabi Alonso’s arrival on the Leverkusen bench caused a transformation rarely seen and proved once again that strategic brilliance can lift a team to new heights. His tactical acumen not only redefined Leverkusen’s style of play, but also instilled a strong winning mentality.Everything that Dortmund have not had for years (certainty in matches against “small” teams and sure points) and because of which it remains without a crown already sometime at the end of the first part of the season, Xabi instilled in this team.The winning mentality is clearly where it comes from. Freedom is what intrigues and makes Leverkusen so interesting, attractive…”While I was playing, I was encouraged by most coaches to have my own criteria on the field, to make my own decisions. That is what I demand from my players. I ask them to make decisions and bear responsibility for them. I don’t want robots on the team. It’s not about always having to do what your coach tells you. I certainly won’t leave a player on the bench if he doesn’t listen to me. Sometimes a player on the field sees better.”##NAJAVA_MECA_8035827##Transformation is what experts most often discuss when they ‘break down’ Alonso’s system…”Last year we couldn’t have possession. We were a counter team. Everything is different now, that’s why we play differently. I was able to convince the players that they could play both ways. So far everything is working well”…This season, Xabi Alonso relies most often on the 3-4-3 system, where key roles are played by asymmetrical offensive backs Jeremy Frimpong and Alex Grimaldo. While the Dutchman transforms into a classic winger in offensive variants and makes a surplus on the right side, the Spaniard enters the middle and becomes a kind of link between the midfield and the two “no.10″ players – Florian Wirtz and Jonas Hoffmann.We have already told many stories about Frimpong and Grimaldo. This time it will be enough to underline that both of them have a double-double performance?! Grimaldo 11 goals and 15 assists, Frimpong 12 goals and 11 assists.Something truly unheard of until now…What is particularly impressive is the fact that Bayer Leverkusen won the trophy (the first, for now) even though during the winter they were without two of the three starting sweepers due to the AFCON (Tapsoba and Kossounou), and also without the injured first striker Boniface.May 2023: 𝗩𝗶𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿 Osimhen guides Napoli to first Serie A title in 33 years!April 2024: 𝗩𝗶𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿 Boniface inspires Bayer Leverkusen to first ever Bundesliga title! Scored 18 goals this season.There’s a team or two in England that could use a Nigerian 🇳🇬 𝗩𝗶𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿.— Usher Komugisha (@UsherKomugisha) April 15, 2024 They managed to overcome those difficult moments without losing a single match. And not only that. Leverkusen’s defense is currently the second-best in the TOP 5 leagues, just behind Inter Milan’s, with only 19 goals conceded.”Nothing you see in recent months happens by accident. Everything is carefully planned”, said Jonathan Tah, who recently finished the game with perfect passing accuracy – 78/78!The player who is least talked about, and who brought the necessary toughness and experience to the team, is Granit Xhaka.The Swiss is currently one of the best midfielders in the world. He commands the defense, moves forwards, initiates every attack. Sporting a 93 percent pass accuracy percentage?! Pretty much Alonso’s extension on the pitch…”I know what I know. I’m not very good with the ball at my feet. I try to communicate with my teammates and play as simply as possible. I let the guys in front of me do the magic.”Simon Rolfes says that the most difficult thing was to bring Xhaka…”He believed in our project. Five years ago, we certainly wouldn’t have been able to do that. Everything is different now.”Speaking with former arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka after Bayer Leverkusen made history. We talked about the following :Winning the Bundesliga title 🏆 Arsenal FC Love for Africa and its people. ❤️ Link below 👇— Oma Akatugba (@omaakatugba) April 15, 2024 And it seems that it could only go even easier. Especially after Xabi Alonso’s big (and admittedly unexpected) decision to stay for another year.Jeremy Frimpong is one of the most wanted players, he has an exit clause according to some information, however after hearing that the Spaniard is not going anywhere he made a very interesting statement:”I was overjoyed that day when I heard. Since he came we have all become better with him. And everyone loves working with him. We all have a strong bond with each other, that’s what makes us such a good team. Am I leaving? I’m here, I’m staying here.”Even before Xabi Alonso lifted the Salatschüssel (salad bowl) yesterday – a coloquial nickname for the Bundesliga champion’s trophy – people asked what would be a greater miracle: his comeback with Liverpool against AC Milan in the Champions League final after 0-3, or the title with Leverkusen.”And why should I have to choose?” I can live with two miracles.”And so he should. In the first there was a journeyman, an assistant orderly, one of many; in another, he is the miracle worker in person.Yesterday, Bayer Leverkusen defeated Werder Bremen 5-0 – the team that toppled the Pharmacists twice in the worst season of all seasons, thus significantly contributing to Werkself’s miraculous ordeal – and became the champion of Germany for the first time in history.Never again Neverkusen, Everloosen, or the Eternal Bridesmaid!

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