Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso has once again cleared speculation about his future before the most important game of his tenure so far. He was “very happy with the team and the club,” said the coach, who was allegedly courted by Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur.
When asked if he would be on the sidelines at Bayer next year, he replied succinctly: “Yes, correct.”
Alonso and Leverkusen will play the semi-final second leg of the Europa League against AS Roma on Thursday (9:00 p.m.). The Werkself lost the first leg 1-0.
Florian Wirtz is still relaxed and full of anticipation in the “most beautiful game” of the season. “I don’t feel any pressure, so I don’t need to ignore it,” said the 20-year-old. “We’ve shown time and again in Europe what we’re made of and what our strengths are. That’s why we know that we can make progress with our quality.”
For Bayer it would be the first European final in 21 years. Cracking the defensive bulwark of Rome coach Jose Mourinho was crucial for progressing, said Wirtz. This was the focus of the training week: “We have to get the defense moving, create more space and create more chances through good running paths.”
Alonso sees his team prepared for this. “They know their opponents better now,” said the Spaniard, “this experience can be important.” He promised: “We will give everything on the pitch and fight to the end.”