In Germany, for a few years, they’ve been is known as Neverkusen, a group outlined by “almost,” a club resigned to “no longer moderately.” They had been no longer speculated to lead the insurrection. As Bayern Munich reigned, strengthening its grip on the Bundesliga, winning 9, 10, 11 straight titles, they, Bayer Leverkusen, had been distant, absent. They watched from afar as Bayern each infrequently stumbled; however at any time when the door crept ajar, they had been nowhere to be chanced on.
Except 2023-24. Except the Leverkusen Revolution. Except now.
Leverkusen beat Bayern 3-0 at the BayArena on Saturday. But they didn’t stun the perennial champs. This became once no longer an upset. It became once all the pieces Leverkusen has built toward below head coach Xabi Alonso. And it became once the firmest expression yet of an announcement that will startle and plug all of European soccer.
Bayern Munich’s reign has, at closing, met its match.
Saturday’s receive took Leverkusen 5 ingredients determined at the high of the Bundesliga. The proverbial door is start, with 13 games to fade. But no longer because Bayern has faltered. The champs entered Saturday’s match on tempo for 85 ingredients, their fourth-easiest tally ever. The door is handiest ajar because Leverkusen has forcibly opened it.
Alonso and undervalued gamers have opened it with flowing, form-transferring soccer. They’ve no longer lost in 31 games this season, across three diversified competitions, in portion because they are subtle to make clear. They pass and fade address Pep Guardiola’s Manchester Metropolis. They protect and counter address Jose Mourinho’s 2012 Real Madrid.
They did all of that and more on Saturday. Florian Wirtz, a reborn wunderkind, exploded through midfield within the 18th minute, and almost space up a Leverkusen opener. Bayern’s Dayot Upamecano at closing scraped away a unhealthy rebound. But Leverkusen took the ensuing throw-in quickly, and caught the champions off guard.
Sacha Boey, Bayern’s most up-to-date answer to an harm disaster at fullback, fell asleep at the far publish.
Josip Stanišić, a fullback deemed surplus by Bayern and loaned out to Leverkusen over the summer, snuck within the support of Boey and set the hosts forward of his parent club.
Leverkusen had less of the ball however more of the potentialities for the length of 90 minutes. They’d eight shots on goal to Bayern’s one, and 1.5 Anticipated Targets (xG) to Bayern’s 0.6. They never once regarded address they’d lose a game that their club, for the length of its history, had almost never obtained. They doubled their lead 5 minutes after halftime, and buried second thoughts.
They punctuated a eminent receive in stoppage time. And then they partied.
They are wholly unencumbered by screw ups of the previous. They are nothing more, nothing no longer up to a ideal soccer group.
Wirtz and others weren’t even alive when the Neverkusen mark started to stay, around the flip of the century. Leverkusen settled for four second-build finishes in a span of six Bundesliga seasons beginning in 1996, ending in 2002. In 2000, the club’s easiest-ever group reached the Champions League final and DFB Pokal final — however lost both.
So that they grew to change into Vizekusen — runner-up-kusen. They haven’t obtained a trophy of any kind since. And in addition they’ve never obtained the Bundesliga.
Their overlord, on the different hand, Bayern Munich, had obtained 11 consecutive titles. In some of those 11 seasons, Bayern lagged however no person capitalized. In others, the so-called Rekordmeister ran away from the pack. And this, 2023-24, without advise could presumably presumably had been the latter.
Bayern, despite injuries and right pessimistic chatter, took 50 ingredients from its first 20 games, the sixth-easiest tempo in league history. Its underlying numbers had been those of a tyrant, a dominant force, an untouchable ruler. They had been greater than 2017-18, when Bayern topped the league by 21 ingredients. They had been greater than each season since, each of which ended with a familiar final end result.
But along came Alonso and Leverkusen, who’ve been even greater. 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 are able to lull opponents to sleep in possession, unbalancing them with the ball, stringing collectively patient assaults that tickle purists and fade viral — even when the clips stem from friendlies.
They’ve proven persona, repeatedly, coming from within the support of to receive and nab ingredients. They stole two from Bayern support in September, with a 94th-minute equalizer. They returned from winter destroy to receive support-to-support games in stoppage time.
Some have truly helpful that their leisurely heroics had been unsustainable. That their underlying numbers could presumably presumably predict regression. That their lead became once slim and the spring became once lengthy, lengthy ample for Bayern to upward thrust, because it frequently does.
But Saturday squashed all fears and hesitancy. The Bundesliga driver’s seat is Leverkusen’s. The king has been pulled from his throne, with handiest three months to enhance it.