There is little burned. Bayer Leverkusen have reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League with two 2-0 wins against Ferencváros Budapest. As the only Bundesliga club. And of course dreams of more.
Xabi Alonso wrapped his desire to return to the final stadium in 76 days with a charming compliment.
“Congratulations to the gardener. The lawn was incredible. One of the best pitches I’ve seen in recent years,” said the former world and European champion with a smile: “So it would be a pleasure to come back here.”
Alonso actually didn’t want to “talk so much about the final” after the confident quarter-finals with two 2-0 wins against Ferencváros Budapest, which will also take place on May 31 in the Puskás Aréna in the Hungarian capital: “That’s it There’s still a long way to go and it’s a tough road. But reaching the quarter-finals is a motivation for the player, the club and the fans. We’ll fight for our chance step by step.”
Alonso: “Use opportunities better”
And although the performances in both games were rather sober and factual, in the eyes of the former midfield strategist they are proof of a decisive development. “You don’t have to play spectacularly. We have to accept that,” said the 41-year-old: “It wasn’t a spectacle. But it was what we needed. If you want to go far in Europe, you need maturity. That’s why nights help us like these.”
Sports director Simon Rolfes was also basically satisfied with the development. “We play with more control and more calm, but still have a lot of chances to score,” he said. “The only thing I didn’t like was the chances.”
A point Bayer urgently needs to work on if the dream of returning to Budapest is to live. “It was enough for today. But it’s not enough for the future. We have to make better use of our chances,” warned Alonso. And captain and goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky also said despite a “mature European performance. The next opponent will be more difficult. In this form, with this momentum and this self-confidence, we can beat anyone. But we have to be more effective. You need a killer instinct against better teams. Something was missing today.”
FC Bayern is coming to Leverkusen
Rolfes didn’t care who was the next opponent on Friday afternoon. Hradecky finds Manchester United “really cool”, club boss Fernando Carro irritated FC Sevilla or AS Roma. On Sunday, however, another major opponent stands in the way. In the league, FC Bayern comes to Leverkusen. Curiously, it is the duel of the only two German quarter-finalists in the three European Cup competitions.
“We would have been happy if the other Germans had progressed too,” said Rolfes, referring to the five Bundesliga teams who failed in the round of 16 in the Champions League and Europa League: “But in the end we’re concentrating on ourselves.”
I am Pierce Boyd, a driven and ambitious professional working in the news industry. I have been writing for 24 Hours Worlds for over five years, specializing in sports section coverage. During my tenure at the publication, I have built an impressive portfolio of articles that has earned me a reputation as an experienced journalist and content creator.