Xabi Alonso impresses over opening 12 months at Bayer Leverkusen

Xabi Alonso impresses over opening 12 months at Bayer Leverkusen

DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) — From the relegation zone to the top of the standings. Not a bad first year in charge for Xabi Alonso at Bayer Leverkusen.

Alonso marked his first anniversary at the German club on Thursday and has a game against local rival Koln on Sunday, another test of Leverkusen’s credentials to challenge Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title.

“That milestone means something to me,” Alonso said Wednesday. “A lot has happened in that time, mostly positive. The record is good and both the team and our game have continued to develop.”

A World Cup and Champions League winner as a player, Alonso had never coached a club’s first team until he was appointed at Leverkusen on Oct. 5, 2022. At the time, Leverkusen had slumped to 17th in the 18-team league under predecessor Gerardo Seoane.

One year later, Leverkusen is in first place after climbing to the top of the standings last week with a 3-0 win over Mainz as Bayern dropped points in a 2-2 draw with Leipzig. Al

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