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UEFA Europa League

Bayer Leverkusen's route to UEFA Euopa League final 2023-24

Published at :May 21, 2024 at 6:28 PM
Modified at :May 21, 2024 at 6:28 PM
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(Courtesy : DF/Bundesliga)

Govind


A win in the Europa League final can pave the way for a treble-winning season for Die Werkself

Bayer Leverkusen are on an incredible run. They were last in action in the Bundesliga competition. In their final game of the league competition, Xabi Alonso’s men secured a 2-1 win over FC Augsburg. With the German first-tier complete, Leverkusen won the title with 90 points on the table. The staggering feat was that they never lost once having played 34 league fixtures.

The Invincibles are now en route to securing a treble. After successfully winning the domestic league title, they will be playing in the UEFA Europa League final and two days later the DFB-Pokal final. The German Cup final shouldn’t be much of a headache as they will be facing 1. FC Kaiserslautern from the second tier of German football.

The Serie A team Atalanta are surely going to trouble Die Werkself and their desire to complete a treble in the 2023-24 season. Although the German club are in an amazing run of 55 games undefeated in all competitions, their journey to the UEL final wasn’t an easy one.

Hundred per cent win record in Group H

Bayer Leverkusen were drawn in Group H to kickstart their 2023-24 UEL journey. They were joined by Molde FK, BK Häcken and Qarabağ FK to complete the group.

Alonso’s men met the Swedish side BK Häcken on the opening day. It was a home fixture at the 30,000+ seater BayArena. A 4-0 victory was secured with the help of four different scorers on the night. Matchday 2 saw Leverkusen make a trip to Norway. Molde were rocked with two goals by the 20-minute mark and had to settle for a 2-1 defeat by the final whistle.

Matchday 3 was a high-scoring affair. A total of six goals were scored at the BayArena. Die Werkself came out on top with a 5-1 scoreline smiling in their favour. Their opponents on that night were Azerbaijani side Qarabağ FK. Matchday 4 was the reverse fixture against Qarabağ. This time the Azerbaijani outfit almost nullified the attacking forces of Bayer Leverkusen at the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium. However, a penalty in the added time by Victor Boniface helped to win 1-0 for the away team.

On matchday 5 and matchday 6, a 2-0 and 5-1 win respectively over Häcken and Molde meant Bayer Leverkusen were through as the group H leaders. So basically, they played six games and won all of them scoring 19 goals while conceding just three.

Also Read: How many trophies have Bayer Leverkusen won in their history?

Round of 16 saw Leverkusen meet a similar face

The Round of 16 saw them face their group H runners-up side Qarabağ FK. How did this happen? Well, Portuguese outfit S.C. Braga dropped from the UEFA Champions League Group C after finishing third and clashed with Qarabağ in the playoffs to enter the UEL Round of 16. The Azerbaijani side narrowly edged past the Portuguese side with 6-5 on aggregate.

In the group phase, the German side had an aggregate score of 6-1 against Qarabağ. But this time around they no longer were a pushover. In the Round of 16 Leg 1, Leverkusen were on the road. For the final 20 minutes, the score was fixed at 2-1 in favour of the hosts. But matters changed in the added time. Patrik Schick who entered the pitch as a substitute in the 80-minute mark, netted the equaliser in the added time to end the game 2-2.

A home contest was thought to make things easy but it was nothing like that in the Leg 2. This time, the score was 2-1 in favour of Qarabağ before the added time. Had it stayed the same, they would have moved deeper into the competition. But Leverkusen as we know love added time. Patrik Schick popped up once again with a brace of goals to take his side into the quarters. Leg 2 ended 3-2 in favour of the hosts.

Meeting Premier League side in the Quarterfinals

Premier League side West Ham United were coming into the quarter-finals after a 5-1 thumping aggregate win over German side SC Freiburg. But the German side they were facing next showed them the exit gate.

Bayer Leverkusen fully utilised the home atmosphere to win 2-0 in the first leg. Later a trip to London didn’t scare them much. David Moyes’s side could only earn a 1-1 draw in the second leg. They knew their business was over in the competition.

Facing the Italians in the semi-finals

AS Roma were up next on the schedule. Leverkusen managed to secure a 2-0 away win at the Stadio Olimpico. Half of the job was done as Xabi Alonso’s men knew things were now in their favour. In the semi-final second leg, Daniele De Rossi’s side came with high motivation. They managed to tie themselves at 2-2 on aggregate with the help of a brace of penalties scored by Leandro Paredes.

And as we know, Leverkusen had no plans to play the extra time. All they needed was an added-time goal by Josip Stanišić after Gianluca Mancini’s own goal aiding them and their cause. The German outfit claimed a spot in the finals after a 4-2 aggregate win over Roma.

Xabi Alonso’s men will now lock horns with Atalanta in the UEL finals

The 3-2-4-1 formation often used by Xabi Alonso will now be tested once again in the Europa League finals. Atalanta are likely to use their go-to 3-4-1-2 setup. The Italian side recently lost the Coppa Italia final to Juventus and will want something to celebrate with this season. Anyways, with 55 game unbeaten run in all competitions, Bayer Leverkusen no matter what happens in the finals in Ireland will be a team remembered for years to come.

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