Istanbul hero Alonso ‘living another miracle’ with Leverkusen


BERLIN: Bayer Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso (pix) said Wednesday his side could complete an unprecedented invincible season, telling reporters “it’s not been proven that we have to lose”.

Leverkusen head into Thursday’s home first leg against West Ham in the Europa League quarter-finals unbeaten in 41 matches this season, with 36 wins and five draws.

While no German club, not even the mighty Bayern Munich, has gone through a season unbeaten, Alonso is not convinced the run should end.

The former Liverpool midfielder was asked if an unbeaten season would be a bigger miracle than the Reds’ come-from-behind Champions League final victory over AC Milan in Istanbul in 2005.

“Why do we have to pick just one? We can live more than one miracle,“ he said.

Down 3-0 at half-time, Liverpool fought back to draw 3-3, with Alonso scoring the third goal, before winning on penalties.

“That was a big one which we all remember. And let’s see what happens with the second one.”

Despite having his side on course for a first Bundesliga title alongside qualifying for the German Cup final, Alonso said his team’s good work would come to nought in Europe should they fail to beat West Ham.

“The Europa League is just two legs. It’s make or break.”

Alonso said striker Victor Boniface was ready to play from the start, having made two appearances off the bench since returning from injury.

Sitting alongside the coach was Leverkusen defender Jeremie Frimpong, who previously won a treble with Celtic.

“That was my first season with Celtic so to win three so young was an amazing feeling,“ he said. “I play football to win trophies.”

Frimpong said the Leverkusen players “did a big cheer” when Alonso announced in March he would stay at the club for another season.

“I was very happy. Since he’s come here, he’s changed Leverkusen.

“Everyone loves working with the coach. You can all see on the pitch that we’re happy.

“We have a connection together and that’s what makes the team.”

The former Manchester City academy player said he was not considering a move away from Leverkusen.

“I’m in Leverkusen right now so I’m staying in Leverkusen.”

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