Sports

After 119 years, Leverkusen are Champions of Germany

"Xabi Alonso will go down in history as the one who ended 120 years of hurt and who ended Bayern’s 11-year domination"

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For the first time in the club’s 119-year existence, Bayer 04 Leverkusen are Bundesliga champions, breaking Bayern Munich’s strong hold on the Meisterschale (“champions’ bowl”).

The Meisterschale is a German association football trophy that has been awarded to the German champions since 1949 and the Bundesliga champions since 1963–64.

All German champions since 1903 have engraved their names on the trophy, which underwent two enlargements in 1981 and 2009. We estimate that its current size will accommodate all champions until 2026.

The latest coach with the trophy, Xabi Alonso, will go down in history as the one who ended 120 years of hurt and ended Bayern’s 11-year domination, and he may go down as the first-ever manager to lead a Bundesliga side to an unbeaten season. It is now 43 games old and counting.

While there was a carnival-like atmosphere in this small city, home to less than 170,000 people, Leverkusen’s painful history of title collapses meant there was always going to be a small seed of doubt until the job was done. They need not have worried.

Werder Bremen had the chance to spoil the party, though many of their fans were of the opinion that Leverkusen taking the title away from Bayern could only be good for German football.

Even though their team lost, at least they had the opportunity to make history. Naby Keita, a Bremen midfielder, missed the opportunity to witness it as he chose not to board the team bus after learning he would not start.

After a cagey opening, with Leverkusen dominating the ball but failing to break through Bremen’s back line, Victor Boniface was given the chance to settle some nerves mid-way through the first half as Jonas Hofman was brought down in the box by Julian Malatini.

Boniface stepped up and nervelessly slotted the penalty past a helpless Michael Zetterer, sending the home fans into raptures.

There was still some nervousness while the score remained 1-0, but the home fans were able to relax when Granit Xhaka’s top draw finished with a sensational first-time strike into the top left corner to give Alonso’s men a big edge in the tie.

Wirtz, who came on at halftime for Adli, replicated Xhaka’s effort eight minutes later from almost the same spot on the pitch.

Wirtz added another with seven minutes remaining before sealing his hat-trick in the 90th minute as Leverkusen rid themselves of their nearly-men tag in style.

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