Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Alonso: Self-confidence is driving Leverkusen forward

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 21 May 2024

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Xabi Alonso says Bayer Leverkusen are driven by self-confidence in their ability to win games ahead of the Europa League final.

Leverkusen are chasing the second trophy in a potential treble against Atalanta in Dublin on Wednesday, with the DFB-Pokal final against Kaiserslautern to follow on Saturday.

The Bundesliga champions became the first German team to go unbeaten on their way to the title and are currently on a 51-match run without defeat in all competitions.

Alonso is taking charge of his first European final as a manager, but he believes his team will draw on the experience they have already gained this season.

“Our self-confidence keeps driving us on. We know that we can produce goals until the final minute,” he said in his pre-match press conference. “That’s a huge development that the team has made this season.

“From the start of the campaign, we believed in our brand of football and that’s right at the heart of this successful run.

“We’ll prepare like we did for all the games before. We haven’t lost in 51 games, so my boys know how to adapt to different situations. That also applies to the final.

“What matters above all tomorrow is mentality. We have a game plan, but the players still have that wonderful atmosphere from the title celebrations on Saturday, and we want to tap into that.”

Alonso is the youngest coach to manage a men’s European final since Roberto Di Matteo oversaw Chelsea’s Champions League victory in 2012.

He will also become just the fourth person to play in and manage a major European final this century after also playing in the 2005 and 2007 Champions League finals with Liverpool.

Reflecting on his time at Leverkusen, Alonso said: “I was so young in this coach career, so when I was offered the Leverkusen job, so it was ‘let’s go, let’s see what happens’.

“In one year and a half, so much has happened; it has been a great experience, and it has only been a year and a half, but we have made so many right decisions.

“I think we have great chemistry. The mentality we have shown throughout the year has been fantastic. I am really enjoying it.”

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