Xabi Alonso saw the game as a coach even during his playing days: Claudio Pizarro

Thanks to a 5-0 thrashing at home of Werder Bremen, Bayer Leverkusen have been crowned Bundesliga champions for the first time in their history.
Xabi Alonso celebrates with Bayer Leverkusen players (Photo | AFP)
Xabi Alonso celebrates with Bayer Leverkusen players (Photo | AFP)

BENGALURU: On Sunday night, Bayer Leverkusen finally let go of a tag — Neverkusen — they had been associated with for more than a decade. The Bundesliga outfit, thanks to a 5-0 thrashing at home of Werder, were crowned champions for the first time in their history.

Claudio Pizarro, no stranger to German football thanks to his long history with Werder and Bayern, spoke about what Leverkusen have done this season. The Peruvian, who also featured for Chelsea in the Premier League, also spoke about Xabi Alonso, the Leverkusen coach who was his one-time teammate at Bayern. Excerpts:

On the mood in Germany with respect to Leverkusen's win

It's something special for Leverkusen. I think Xabi Alonso is doing a great job. They are well deserved Bundesliga winners this year.

On what changed in Leverkusen this year -- is it Bayern dropping off or Leverkusen levelling up

I think it's the latter. They have a great coach. I can say that I know Alonso pretty well. I played with him when I was at Bayern. I knew even then that he was going to be a coach and a great one at that. You could see that he was analysing the games, he had something special. In the end, he put together some young players... of course, when you have a team like Bayern that are always winning the Bundesliga, you can see the difference between Bayern and the other teams. At the end, the teams are going down. They don't have the consistency of Bayern. This time, I think Xabi did a brilliant job working with the young players, explaining how to fight till the end so that they can achieve important things in their career. That's what they have done. I'm really happy for Xabi.

On what kind of a coach Alonso is and whether he lived football even during his playing days

Yes, of course. You could see that he was already thinking about the game from a coaching perspective when he was playing. He's a very good coach because he can manage all the players (well). It's not easy to be a trainer when you have so many egos in the team. Just 11 players can start but you need all the players in the squad to win titles. He did that. All the players who came in did their jobs and that's very important.

On the next challenge for Leverkusen

It could be possible (winning it again next year). That's the most difficult part. When you win a title, every other team wants to beat you, they will fight against you. So, you will have to be ready, fight harder and maybe other players will join because you will be in other competitions as well. You need to have a big squad to help you win important titles that you want.

(Sony Sports Networks, the official broadcasters of the Bundesliga in India, facilitated this interview).

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