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Wirtz’s return gives Leverkusen extra motivation to finish season undefeated

Wirtz's return gives Leverkusen extra motivation to finish season undefeated

Al Malaeb Newspaper – The return to full fitness of winger Florian Wirtz provides further incentive for Bayer Leverkusen to add a second title to their coffers this season, when they face Italy’s Atalanta in the Europa League final the day after tomorrow, Wednesday , at Dublin.

Wirtz is seen as an influential force in the ranks of Leverkusen, who, led by their Spanish coach Xabi Alonso, managed to win the Bundesliga title for the first time in their history during a season in which he n ‘lost a single game, a feat no other team has ever achieved, even Bayern Munich in their golden era.

Wirtz has been content to play a secondary role in recent weeks due to a minor muscle injury. He has not played the full 90 minutes since April 11, including the match in which his team beat England’s West Ham in the Europa League quarter-finals.

However, his influence did not diminish even when he featured as a substitute, as he scored a hat-trick against Werder Bremen after coming on as a second-half substitute, and his team won a crushing 5–0 victory .

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In his next two league matches, Wirtz contributed to stoppage-time equalizers against Borussia Dortmund and Stuttgart, keeping his team undefeated.

Mr. 70 percent

Even if the team has not lost in a series of 51 matches, and its last defeat dates back to May 2023 against Bochum by 3-0, and more than one player has shone in its ranks, Wirtz remains the only real star of the club.

Wirtz celebrated his 21st birthday this month. He has scored 18 goals and made 20 assists in all competitions this season.

Born in the village of Pulheim, his performances make him a future candidate for the Ballon d’Or, while local media have indicated that he may have little chance this year if Germany go to the European Cup, which she will welcome. starting next month.

Alonso admitted he tried to rest Wirtz in the second leg of the Europa League semi-final against Roma, but forced him to play nine minutes before the end of the match with Leverkusen leading 0 -2 and the team from the Italian capital erased its deficit. in the first leg at home with the same score, and a minute after Wirtz came on, Leverkusen reduced the gap and then added the second goal in stoppage time to secure the qualification ticket for the final match .

Leverkusen’s failure to lose this match allowed them to break the record for most consecutive matches without a defeat, taking it to 49 matches after sharing the record with Benfica of Portugal, who achieved the feat 59 years ago .

Alonso said after the match: “He couldn’t run well and he was limping, but he wanted to help the team,” adding: “He’s still a good player even when he’s at 70 percent, but he still needs more time.”

Wirtz missed the next two league matches before returning in the final round, where Alonso said: “He feels much better and can play from the start.”

Leverkusen continues history

Before the start of the current season, Leverkusen had won only two titles in its history, the European Cup (currently Europa League) in 1988 and the German Cup in 1993, considering that it was founded there 120 years ago.

Leverkusen, who face Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final next Saturday, are also two wins away from an unbeaten treble.

On the other hand, Atalanta have not won a title since winning the Italian Cup in 1963 and want to end a title drought that has lasted over 5 decades, but they face a team that doesn’t seem to know when to be defeated.

Even if Atalanta, who lost the Italian Cup final against Juventus last Wednesday, manages to beat Leverkusen in the score, it will not be certain until the final whistle because Leverkusen scored goals very late this season.

Leverkusen have scored 15 goals after 90 minutes this season and often snatch a victory, or at least a draw, from the jaws of defeat.

This has been clearly demonstrated in the Europa League, since the start of the round of 16, 11 of Leverkusen’s 12 goals have been scored after 70 minutes, and after the 2-1 victory over Augsburg last Saturday, which ensured a league season without defeat, Alonso declared that the scale of the task “It’s incredible, but we will try,” he concluded, “in light of this atmosphere and this energy, there are reasons to be optimistic and believe.”

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