Bayer Leverkusen win Bundesliga to end Bayern Munich’s 11-year title streak

Leverkusen were in the bottom half of the table when Xabi Alonso took charge in October 2022, but the Spaniard has led the club to a historic title in his first full season as a manager

Jamie Braidwood
Sunday 14 April 2024 19:59 BST
Xabi Alonso celebrates as Bayer Leverkusen were crowned Bundesliga champions
Xabi Alonso celebrates as Bayer Leverkusen were crowned Bundesliga champions (Getty Images)

Bayer Leverkusen have won the Bundesliga for the first time, ending Bayern Munich’s 11-year run as champions of Germany.

Xabi Alonso’s runaway leaders wrapped up the title in style with five games to spare after a 5-0 home win over Werder Bremen, sparking jubilant scenes as fans celebrated a first Bundesliga title in the club’s 120-year history.

Leverkusen, who could yet complete the first-ever unbeaten season in the Bundesliga, become the first team to beat Bayern to the German top flight since Jurgen Klopp led Borussia Dortmund to consecutive titles in 2011 and 2012.

Fans invaded the pitch as Levekusen defeated Werder Bremen 5-0 at home (Getty Images)
Granit Xhaka was on the scoresheet as Leverkusen ended Bayern’s dominance (Getty Images)

Alonso’s side thrashed Bayern 3-0 in February to open up a five-point lead in the title race, a gap that grew into a chasm as the champions unravelled under Thomas Tuchel following a series of shock defeats in the spring.

Alonso, a World Cup-winning midfielder with Spain who lifted major titles at Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern, joined Leverkusen in October 2022 with the side 17th in the table after just one win from their first eight matches of the season.

In what is his first managerial role, Alonso’s impressive work at Leverkusen made him the target of some of Europe’s biggest teams, including his former clubs Liverpool and Bayern.

Alonso has already put that speculation to rest, however, confirming last month that he had decided to stay with Leverkusen next season. The 42-year-old said he has “much more to do” before his work at the club is complete.

As well as attempting to go the full 34-game season unbeaten, a feat never before achieved in the history of Germany’s top flight, Leverkusen could also find the treble by adding the German Cup and Europa League trophies next month.

Leverkusen will play FC Kaiserslautern, a side currently fighting relegation from the second-tier Bundesliga 2, in the German Cup final on May 25, while they will take a 2-0 lead into the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final against West Ham United.

It would also be a historic achievement for a club who have been scarred by near misses and were nicknamed ‘Neverkusen’ following their spectacular collapse late in the 2001-02 campaign. Leverkusen were on the cusp of the treble but finished runner-up in the Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League.

(Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Leverkusen’s historic success has brought one of European football’s longest ever title-winning streaks to an end - in what was England captain Harry Kane’s first season at Bayern Munich.

Bayern had won 11 Bundesligas in a row between 2013 and 2023 - but required a dramatic final-day collapse by Borussia Dortmund last season to maintain their status as German champions.

But while Kane has broken goalscoring records since arriving from Tottenham in a €100m deal - already scoring the most Bundesliga goals in a debut campaign - Bayern have struggled overall and it was announced back in February that Tuchel would be leaving at the end of the campaign following a limp title defence.

Yet Leverkusen could also become the most dominant German champions in Bundesliga history, with Alonso’s side five wins away from beating Bayern’s record points tally of 91 set in the 2012/13 campaign.

Against Bremen, and a backdrop of expectation and cauldron of noise at the BayArena, Victor Boniface eased any nerves in the stadium with a 25th-minute penalty after Julian Malatin fouled Jonas Hofmann in the box, with referee Harm Osmers awarding the spot-kick following a VAR consultation.

Wave after wave of attack followed but Leverkusen were thwarted until Granit Xhaka curled home a left-foot strike from 25 yards on the hour to effectively end any hope of Bremen spoiling the party.

Wirtz, introduced on the stroke of half-time, then rifled high into the net from a similar distance midway through the second half and a brief pitch invasion followed when he bagged his second in the 83rd minute after going clean through on goal.

He had his treble with a fine finish, the last kick of the match which sparked another pitch invasion as Leverkusen got the victory they needed to guarantee the title with five matches left in the season.

Includes reporting from PA

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