With Bundesliga title one win away, Xabi Alonso warns Leverkusen can’t take any game for granted

LEVERKUSEN, Germany (AP) — With Bayer Leverkusen one step away from an historic title, coach Xabi Alonso is trying to keep his players’ feet firmly on the ground.

Leverkusen is unbeaten in 42 games in all competitions this season after beating West Ham 2-0 in the Europa League on Thursday. Another victory Sunday against mid-table Werder Bremen would secure the club’s first Bundesliga title.

“We don’t take for granted any game,” Alonso said Friday. He declined to go into detail about how the team might celebrate or what the achievement would mean, indicating it was out of respect to opposing teams.

“We have a super situation on Sunday but we are preparing for it with full respect, so I don’t want to talk too much,” he said.

There is a chance Leverkusen could become champion a day early if 11-time defending champion Bayern Munich and third-place Stuttgart both lose their games Saturday, but Alonso said he didn’t want that to happen.

“That would be a big surprise to be honest,” he said. “I’d rather win it on the field with our victory.”

Leverkusen goes into this weekend’s games with a 16-point lead over Bayern and Stuttgart and six games left to play in the Bundesliga. Leverkusen is chasing a possible treble. Besides the Bundesliga, Alonso’s team has reached the final of the German Cup and is in the quarterfinals of the Europa League.

Leverkusen’s game Sunday will be must-see TV for German soccer fans but Alonso’s counterpart at Bayern, Thomas Tuchel, said he won’t tune in.

Leverkusen’s game kicks off at the same time as Bayern’s next Champions League opponent, Arsenal, plays Aston Villa in the English Premier League. Bayern hosts Arsenal on Wednesday with the score at 2-2 from the first leg of their quarterfinal fixture.

“I’m not going to watch the Leverkusen game on Sunday,” he said. “I’ll be watching Arsenal.”


AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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