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Dortmund present Leverkusen with next major test

AFP |
Apr 19, 2024 07:25 AM IST

Dortmund present Leverkusen with next major test

Newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen's trip to Borussia Dortmund on Sunday is arguably their biggest hurdle in achieving a perfect league season.

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Despite Leverkusen's breakthrough title win, sealed on Sunday with a 5-0 home demolition of Werder Bremen, Xabi Alonso's side have several records in their sights.

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They are still in the hunt for a remarkable treble, having qualified for the German Cup final and the Europa League semi-finals.

Bayern Munich are the only German club to have won the treble, doing so with Champions League rather than Europa League wins in 2013 and 2020.

In the league, Leverkusen are still unbeaten with 25 wins and four draws in 29 games. In all competitions, they are on a 44-match undefeated streak this season.

Not even Bayern Munich have gone through a league season without a loss, meaning Alonso's men are five matches away from a unique achievement.

Currently on 79 points, Leverkusen could also break the all-time Bundesliga points tally of 91, set by Bayern in 2012-13.

Of Leverkusen's remaining league fixtures, facing Dortmund away therefore represents the biggest hurdle to breaking these records.

Leverkusen also host third-placed Stuttgart the following week but Dortmund are a different proposition at home, particularly after they beat Atletico Madrid on Tuesday to reach the Champions League semi-finals.

Leverkusen were held to a 1-1 draw by Dortmund in December.

While most clubs would expect a bit of a lull after breaking a 120-year title drought, Alonso's Leverkusen are not most clubs.

Despite parties going well into the night, Alonso said Wednesday he had no fears his side would fall back to earth.

We had "a few beers, but not too many" the coach said Wednesday, telling reporters "the players have not given me any reason to doubt them."

"We have the hunger and the desire to keep going non-stop."

Dortmund sit in fifth, behind RB Leipzig who sit in the final guaranteed spot to play Champions League football next season.

For Edin Terzic's side, who have a two-legged semi-final with Paris Saint-Germain on the horizon, their European exploits may also pay dividends in the league.

Dortmund's win alongside Bayern's victory over Arsenal has boosted Germany's chances of getting five spots in Europe's premier competition next season.

Although this may shift Dortmund's focus to Europe, coming face to face with a title winner not named Bayern will motivate the Bundesliga's perennial runners-up for a big performance.

As for Bayern, mainly pride is at stake in the league, with Thomas Tuchel's side level on points with Stuttgart.

Bayern travel to Union Berlin on Saturday, who are not quite safe from relegation yet and will be desperate to pick up points at their Stadion an der Alte Foersterei home.

Stuttgart striker Serhou Guirassy was named Bundesliga player of the month on Thursday, picking up the honour for the second time this season.

Starting the season with an incredible 10 goals in five games, Guirassy picked up an injury and missed part of the campaign while on Africa Cup of Nations duty.

He returned in February and has now scored in each of his past six games to have Stuttgart on course for a return to Champions League football.

Guirassy has 25 goals in 23 games this season, second behind Harry Kane who has 32 goals in 29 games.

Presented with the award at training on Thursday, Guirassy joked "oh what, again?" before thanking everyone who chose him in the fan-voted award.

79 - Bayer Leverkusen have 79 points with five games remaining. Last year, Bayern and Dortmund finished on 71 after 34 games, with the Bavarians winning the title on goal difference.

0 - No team has ever gone through a Bundesliga season unbeaten.

4 - Only four clubs Bayern, Gladbach, Stuttgart and Dortmund have taken points off Leverkusen this season.

Fixtures

Friday

Eintracht Frankfurt v Augsburg

Saturday

Heidenheim v RB Leipzig, Wolfsburg v Bochum, Cologne v Darmstadt, Hoffenheim v Borussia Moenchengladbach, Union Berlin v Bayern Munich

Sunday

Werder Bremen v Stuttgart, Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen , Freiburg v Mainz

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BORUSSIA DORTMUND

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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