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“We’ve achieved our initial goal in the Europa League. Finishing first in the group was very important,” Alonso stressed, looking back on Thursday’s result in Sweden. The Spaniard had made use of his squad and fielded a number of young players, handing Gustavo Puerta his first Bayer 04 start and Europa League debuts for Noah Mbamba and Ayman Aourir. “There needs to be a target for young players. They’ve fought for it and earned it,” the 42-year-old stated. And when asked about Patrik Schick’s goal and the ensuring celebrations, he added: “The whole team and backroom staff were pleased for him. He was out injured for a long time and is now fit again. We now need him.”
Turning attentions to Sunday, Dortmund come into the weekend in fourth place on 24 points – 10 behind leaders Leverkusen. It’s set to be an exciting encounter. “They’re a direct rival. We have to win in the battle for places at the top. We’re expecting a good game with a great atmosphere,” Alonso said looking ahead to the excellent atmosphere the Werkself can once again expect. All 30,210 tickets have been sold, meaning the BayArena will be full once more.
However, the Spanish coach didn’t want to place too much importance on the game, instead stressing, “It’s a top game but there’s a long way to go till May. The goal is three points, no matter who against. We always focus on ourselves and take things one game at a time in this phase. We need to be well prepared against Dortmund and play with concentration.”
Like Leverkusen, Borussia are also in the midst a busy spell to close out the year. Both teams have six more games before Christmas, with BVB also set to face VfB Stuttgart and RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga. The Black-Yellows beat AC Milan 3-1 away during the week in the Champions League to book their place in the knockout rounds but still have a final group game at home to Paris Saint-Germain to come. “Dortmund have achieved their goal. They’re a top team with lots of individual quality and a good coach,” Alonso said in his assessment.
Bayer 04 are the only team across Europe’s top five leagues yet to lose a competitive game this season, winning 18 out of 19 fixtures across competitions. However, Alonso once again warned of being overly confident: “It’s nice but not a goal. It’s a result of our work. We’re not thinking about it.” On the subject of Florian Wirtz’s fitness after he sat out the Häcken game with a slight muscular problem, the coach stated: “He already feels better. We’re now focused on his complete recovery by Sunday. We’re optimistic but have to wait and see.”
Bayer 04 continue to show no weakness: The top team in the Bundesliga are leading the way after the 2-1 win away to FC Heidenheim as they expand their outstanding run to 32 games unbeaten in all competitions. After the brilliant display in the 3-0 win against Bayern Munich, hard work was needed to earn a deserved victory at Heidenheim. The Werkself review.Show more
Bayer 04 extended their unbeaten run this season to a German record-equalling 32 competitive matches with a 2-1 win away at Heidenheim in the Bundesliga on Saturday. Jeremie Frimpong put Leverkusen ahead in first-half added time before Amine Adli put away a Florian Wirtz pass to double the advantage. Tim Kleindienst got one back for the hosts, but the Werkself held on to keep clear at the top of the table.Show more
Bayer 04 visit promoted Heidenheim for Bundesliga Matchday 22 on Saturday, 17 February (kick-off: 15:30 CET). Here’s all you need to know ahead of the game at the Voith-Arena in our matchday news.Show more
Just one point separates the two teams and Sunday 18 February (kick-off: 14.00 CEST) brings a head-to-head clash: the Bayer 04 Women are at home to TSG Hoffenheim at the Ulrich Haberland Stadium on Matchday 14. For Leverkusen it is all about building on the current run of six games unbeaten at home.Show more