In Germany, for a long time, they’ve been is named Neverkusen, a team defined by “merely about,” a membership resigned to “no longer pretty.” They weren’t supposed to lead the riot. As Bayern Munich reigned, strengthening its grip on the Bundesliga, winning 9, 10, 11 straight titles, they, Bayer Leverkusen, were a long way away, absent. They watched from afar as Bayern now and again stumbled; but at any time when the door crept ajar, they were nowhere to be came all over.
Till 2023-24. Till the Leverkusen Revolution. Till now.
Leverkusen beat Bayern 3-0 on the BayArena on Saturday. However they did no longer stun the perennial champs. This became once no longer an upset. It became once every little thing Leverkusen has constructed toward beneath head coach Xabi Alonso. And it became once the firmest expression yet of a statement that can startle and mosey all of European soccer.
Bayern Munich’s reign has, at remaining, met its match.
Saturday’s get took Leverkusen 5 aspects clear on the high of the Bundesliga. The proverbial door is start, with 13 games to stride. However no longer in consequence of Bayern has faltered. The champs entered Saturday’s match on tempo for 85 aspects, their fourth-most efficient tally ever. The door is finest ajar in consequence of Leverkusen has forcibly opened it.
Alonso and undervalued gamers hold opened it with flowing, form-inspiring football. They’ve no longer misplaced in 31 games this season, all over three utterly different competitions, in segment in consequence of they are hard to interpret. They pass and stride fancy Pep Guardiola’s Manchester Metropolis. They defend and counter fancy Jose Mourinho’s 2012 Accurate Madrid.
They did all of that and more on Saturday. Florian Wirtz, a reborn wunderkind, exploded thru midfield in the 18th minute, and merely about position up a Leverkusen opener. Bayern’s Dayot Upamecano at remaining scraped away a unhealthy rebound. However Leverkusen took the ensuing throw-in instant, and caught the champions off guard.
Sacha Boey, Bayern’s most modern resolution to an harm disaster at fullback, fell asleep on the a long way post.
Josip Stanišić, a fullback deemed surplus by Bayern and loaned out to Leverkusen over the summer, snuck late Boey and build the hosts before his guardian membership.
Leverkusen had less of the ball but more of the potentialities for the period of 90 minutes. They had eight photography on goal to Bayern’s one, and 1.5 Expected Targets (xG) to Bayern’s 0.6. They by no draw once looked fancy they’d lose a sport that their membership, for the period of its history, had practically by no draw won. They doubled their lead 5 minutes after halftime, and buried 2nd solutions.
They punctuated a infamous get in stoppage time. After which they partied.
They are wholly unencumbered by failures of the previous. They are nothing more, nothing lower than a vivid soccer team.
Wirtz and others weren’t even alive when the Neverkusen label started to stick, all over the flip of the century. Leverkusen settled for four 2nd-location finishes in a span of six Bundesliga seasons starting up in 1996, ending in 2002. In 2000, the membership’s most efficient-ever team reached the Champions League final and DFB Pokal final — but misplaced both.
So they grew to change into Vizekusen — runner-up-kusen. They have not won a trophy of any form since. And they’ve by no draw won the Bundesliga.
Their overlord, on the different hand, Bayern Munich, had won 11 consecutive titles. In some of these 11 seasons, Bayern lagged but no person capitalized. In others, the so-called Rekordmeister ran a long way flung from the pack. And this, 2023-24, with out grief will were the latter.
Bayern, despite accidents and real pessimistic chatter, took 50 aspects from its first 20 games, the sixth-most efficient tempo in league history. Its underlying numbers were these of a tyrant, a dominant force, an untouchable ruler. They were better than 2017-18, when Bayern topped the league by 21 aspects. They were better than every season since, every of which ended with a smartly-identified .
However alongside came Alonso and Leverkusen, who’ve been even better. With shrewd summer signings — including Granit Xhaka from Arsenal and Victor Boniface from Union Saint-Gilloise in Belgium — they’ve change into a flexible machine. They’ll can stifle opponents and blitz them. Or they’ll lull opponents to sleep in possession, unbalancing them with the ball, stringing collectively patient assaults that tickle purists and stride viral — even when the clips stem from friendlies.
They’ve confirmed personality, over and over, coming from late to get and nab aspects. They stole two from Bayern wait on in September, with a 94th-minute equalizer. They returned from chilly weather ruin to get wait on-to-wait on games in stoppage time.
Some hold urged that their gradual heroics were unsustainable. That their underlying numbers also can predict regression. That their lead became once slim and the spring became once lengthy, lengthy ample for Bayern to upward thrust, as it always does.
However Saturday squashed all fears and hesitancy. The Bundesliga driver’s seat is Leverkusen’s. The king has been pulled from his throne, with finest three months to rating better it.