Leverkusen success against Stuttgart: Perfect week for Xabi Alonso – Sport

At first it was not entirely clear what exactly happened in the 38th minute when the game suddenly came to a standstill. Did referee Florian Badstübner order a minute’s rest so that the players from Leverkusen and Stuttgart could enjoy the beauty of the late autumn sky? But that was also a spectacle! All day the horizon had had a Californian tinge, and now it was mixed with colors that seemed downright psychedelic, somewhere between purple, orange and velvety red.

Or had Bayer coach Xabi Alonso pushed through at short notice with the DFL that he should be able to gather his team at least once every half to adjust his plan due to special merits in world football?

It turned out that the referee wanted to issue a yellow card and was looking for the culprit after letting the advantage play out first. But since Stuttgart’s shirt numbers were barely legible (on purpose?), Badstübner had to do some careful detective work. Then, finally, he showed the completely surprised Dan-Axel Zagadou a yellow card, asked Leverkusen to break up their meeting – and let the game continue.

It was the only unexpected scene of the afternoon when the situation was even clearer than the odds ratio (6:0) would suggest. Leverkusen deservedly won 2-0 (1-0) without appearing anywhere near as dazzling as the sky. The factory club, who have started the season devastatingly, are still not playing like a European Cup contender but at this stage of the season points are more important than praise for elegance and Alonso’s side picked up nine points in the English week. That’s just as many as the club got in the first twelve games – nine points, only Bayern, Leipzig and Wolfsburg have managed that in these seven days. So clubs in whose sphere Bayer had seen itself before the season had started.

In the new year, Xabi Alonso can count on the return of the exceptional teenager Florian Wirtz.

The fact that there was a lot of idle time underneath (the first half against Union, an extremely lucky 2-1 in Cologne) and now a mandatory win against a divided club may seem secondary to the Leverkusen team. Coach Alonso can rehearse things during the long Qatar break and get to know players like youngster Florian Wirtz, who lost a year due to a cruciate ligament rupture.

Winger Moussa Diaby shone again against Stuttgart, who shook off five Stuttgarters like annoying leeches during his sprint with the ball, which made it 1-0 in the 30th minute. And the equally indefatigable Jeremie Frimpong, who put a cross from Diaby on the crossbar in a ravishing counterattack (63′).

Jonathan Tah, on the other hand, compensated himself for only watching the World Cup on TV by scoring the overdue 2-0. “We worked a lot on the set pieces before and that worked well for the second goal,” said a delighted Alonso. “I was a bit nervous,” admitted the Spaniard, because “today was a dangerous game for us after the emotional win in Cologne. But I’m happy with the performance. We didn’t play the best football, but we had control and we have the game worked”.

You could see what it means when Bayer 04 are missing four regular players like Wirtz, Schick, Aránguiz and Andrich – or when VfB have to replace their top trio of Mavropanos, Silas, Endo and, for a short time, cross-skilled Sosa. It simply does not work.

At VfB, the big decisions are made after a trip to the US

In addition, there is the tugging behind the scenes at VfB, which can often be heard and felt outside. The Swabians are currently giving the image of a sandcastle that the tide is heading towards. Two core personal details remain open (interim coach Michael Wimmer and squad planner Sven Mislintat), and it is not clear how things will continue one floor up: The role played by Alexander Wehrle as CEO will only be revealed when the club returns after a trip to America .

“We’ll decide that after the trip to America,” is Wehrle’s favorite phrase at the moment and Wimmer – although between the words the impression arises that the decision has already been made. Wehrle denies this: “We agreed on the timetable together,” he said on Saturday, “we’ve been talking to each other for a few weeks. I’m not going into negotiations just to negotiate, in the end we want a result.”

Wehrle has already drawn one conclusion: He explained that he had canceled a long-planned trip to the World Cup in Qatar. It probably wouldn’t have looked good either, though, if you’d have spotted him at sandcastles in the distance, when those at home are much more important.



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