Xabi Alonso confident Leverkusen can finish season with Europa League win in Dublin

Xabi Alonso expects his relentless Bayer Leverkusen team’s high standards to win the Europa League final as the hunger for success has propelled them to the brink of a remarkable invincible season.

The former Spain international, who has overseen 51 matches without defeat, is two wins away from an incredible undefeated treble-winning campaign.

Having already wrapped up the club’s first Bundesliga title in their history, the ex-Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid midfielder has “a good feeling it is not going to be different” against Atalanta in Dublin.

“We have been preparing for this moment through all the year, it is not just a two-day job,” said Alonso.

“Tomorrow I have a good feeling it is not going to be different. We respect Atalanta but we have confidence in our game and our mentality is not going to change.

“Luckily I have a great team, they are ready and well prepared for tomorrow and go into the game with the right mindset.

“This year we have played 51 games, we have talked so much it is great the players have an understanding of different situations of preparation.

“We’ve had a lot of success thus far also. We don’t want to stop.”

In Alonso’s first season in charge Leverkusen were knocked out by Roma in the Europa League semi-final just over a year ago.


But the Spaniard said that was an important learning experience and provides additional incentive to win this competition for only the second time, the previous being its former incarnation of the Uefa Cup in 1988.

“It is a huge motivation. We have already spoken about how things felt last season,” Alonso added.

“We really harnessed this disappointment to our advantage to fight even more and to take that next step and we have done so.

“I was so young in this coaching career so I said ‘Let’s go and see what happens’. In one and a half years so many things have happened.

“This year we have been able to take many right decisions in putting the pieces together.

“We have great chemistry among the players in the locker room, the confidence is really good and the mentality we have shown all year is fantastic.

“Putting all the things together we have reached this moment. I’m really enjoying it.”

Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini praised Alonso’s decision to stay with the Bundesliga side in the face of interest from Liverpool and Bayern Munich as a “good example”.

The 42-year-old was linked with jobs at two of his old clubs in the last few months but has publicly declared his loyalty to Leverkusen for next season.

“Of course he had an opportunity to go to a number of big clubs but he thought the club believed in him when he wasn’t that necessarily highly-rated and it’s a good example of football,” said Gasperini.

Atalanta sit fifth in Serie A, securing a return to the Champions League, and since the turn of the year only champions Inter have accrued more league points.

They also knocked out Liverpool and Sporting Lisbon on the way to the final so Leverkusen hold no fear for Gasperini.

“We need to have a great deal of respect for them. They are a team who are very worthy of the records they have achieved. The statistics speak for themselves,” he said.

“But in Italy and in Europe we have come up against a number of strong sides and we have acquired a lot of self-confidence and self-belief.

“We need to make sure we are solid in terms of our shape and organisation but when it comes down to finals you have to make sure to come out on top in the right moments.”

Sourse: breakingnews.ie

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