Alonso reflects on pride and pain as ‘Neverlusen’ streak ends

DUBLIN: Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso reflected on his team’s remarkable 51-match unbeaten streak, expressing pride despite the sting of their recent Europa League final loss. The 3-0 defeat by Atalanta in Dublin ended their extraordinary run, leaving Leverkusen just shy of an undefeated season across all competitions.

Leverkusen, humorously dubbed ‘Neverlusen’ after breaking Bayern Munich’s 11-year Bundesliga title dominance, now face a pivotal test. They can still achieve a domestic double with a win against second-tier Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final this Saturday.

“The normality is not to get defeated in the 52nd game. Normally it happens much earlier in the season. It’s been quite exceptional what we have achieved and we have to be really proud, probably in some time but for sure today it’s painful,” Alonso remarked in a news conference. He emphasized the need to channel the pain of the defeat into motivation for their upcoming challenge.

For a club historically derided as ‘Neverkusen’ due to their long-standing title drought, this season has been transformative. Before this year, Leverkusen had secured only two major trophies in their 119-year history. While the Europa League final could have added a second European title to their 1988 UEFA Cup victory, winning the German Cup would still mark a significant triumph.

“It will be a test how we deal with it because we have another big thing on Saturday,” Alonso, the former Liverpool, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich midfielder, stated. “It’s going to be a challenge for us how we come back from today’s defeat and how we deal with the pain. Let’s try and have a big influence on our mindset for Saturday.”

As Leverkusen prepares for the German Cup final, the lessons from their Europa League journey will be crucial. The team hopes to transform the disappointment into determination, aiming to cap off an already historic season with another piece of silverware.

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