Cometh the moment, cometh the man. Xabi Alonso confirmed his burgeoning coaching reputation isn’t a flash in the pan by masterminding Bayer Leverkusen’s 3-0 whitewash of title rivals Bayern Munich in an astonishing display of measured football. Victory lifted Die Werkself to 55 points, five clear of the Bavarians and extended their unbeaten run to 31 games across all competitions.
Alonso produced a tactical masterstroke by tweaking his team formation from the usual 3-4-3 to 3-5-2, with the extra midfielder giving his side midfield control. His decision to start Josep Stanisic in place of Jeremie Frimpong, and Nathan Tella instead of centre forward Patrick Schick gave his side defensive compactness while allowing the team a platform to spring lethal counterattacks.
Denis Undav made a strong case for inclusion in Germany’s Euro 2024 squad by notching yet another goal in Stuttgart’s 3-1 pummelling of Mainz. The on loan striker from Brighton and Hove Albion is now the top scoring German forward in Europe. Donyel Malen struck twice and Niclas Fulkrug added another in Borussia Dortmund’s 3-0 victory over Freiburg to stay fourth, three points behind Sebastian Hoeness’ side.
In Spain, Real Madrid created a five point buffer ahead of the chasing pack by pulverising closest rivals Girona 4-0 thanks to a brace from top scorer Jude Bellingham whose 20 goals to date make him the highest scoring midfielder for Los Blancos this century. Victory came at a cost as Bellingham sprained his ankle and will miss tomorrow’s Uefa Champions League encounter away to RB Leipzig.
Barcelona fell ten points off title pace when they were held to a 3-3 draw by struggling Granada while Atletico Madrid were ambushed 1-0 at Sevilla. It was Atleti’s second consecutive defeat of the week by a similar margin following Thursday’s Copa del Rey loss to Athletic Bilbao. Real Sociedad were meanwhile torpedoed 0-1 by Osasuna in front of their own fans.
Serie A is Inter Milan’s to lose after Simone Inzaghi’s Nerrazzuri fought back from a goal down at half time to beat Danielle de Rossi’s AS Roma 4-2 to move seven points clear of closest pursuers Juventus who host Udinese tonight. AC Milan maintained their flickering title hopes by edging Napoli 1-0 to stay third whereas Atalanta won their fifth straight game 4-1 at Genoa thanks to goals from Charles de Ketelaere and Teun Koopmeiners.
In England, Liverpool saw off a spirited challenge from Burnley 3-1 to maintain a two point advantage over Manchester City who had briefly bossed the standings by taming stubborn Everton 2-0 via two second half goals from 16-goal top scorer Erling Braut Haaland. The brace were the Norwegian’s first goals in three months and are a perfect tonic for Tuesday’s Uefa Champions League trip to FC Copenhagen.
Arsenal brutalised West Ham United 6-0 for their biggest Premier League victory away from home ever to remain joint second but Aston Villa were dethroned from the Top Four when they fell 1-2 at home to Manchester United who prevailed thanks to strikes from Rasmus Hojlund and Scott McTominay. Tottenham Hotspur moved into fourth by edging Brighton 2-1 with virtually the last kick of the game.