Leverkusen bounces back as Xhaka’s strike secures double for Leverkusen in DFB-Pokal triumph #2161

Eliot Ben-Ner
The Football Hub
Published in
9 min readMay 29, 2024

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Leverkusen got their hearts. ripped out in Dublin on Thursday. their perfect campaign came to an end as they no longer are invincible. in the Europa League final, they put forth their worst performance of the entire season has Gasparini’s Atalanta hosted the trophy, putting an end to the 51 unbeaten run has their treble is slashed in Ireland. however, leverkusen will still have an opportunity for a bit of redemption. They still can secure another trophy in the final match of the season. that’s right. We are in Berlin at the Olympiastadion For the German Cup Final. leverkusen battles against Bundesliga 2 side FC Kaiserslautern. Leverkusen’s route to the final went through Paderborn In the round of 16, Stuttgart in the quarterfinals and possible next season Fortuna Düsseldorf In the semi-final. Meanwhile FC Kaiserslautern went through Nuremberg In the round of 16, Hertha Berlin In the quarters and Liga III side 1. FC Saarbrücken In the semi-final as it sets up a date with domestic invincibles leverkusen. FC Kaiserslautern look to try to hand leverkusen back-to-back losses and finals. they have won the competition twice In 1989 beating Werder Bremen then again in 1995 against Karlsruher SC. on the other side. leverkusen has only won this once back in 1992 against Hertha Berlin. Leverkusen recently made the final back in 2020 as they were apart of Bayern. Munich’s treble. kickoff would be on its way in Berlin as FC Kaiserslautern and Leverkusen meet in the final with a trophy on the line.

Leverkusen wasted no time asserting themselves as expected, they dominated possession and got themselves into dangerous areas early on. Inside of the first minute. Alex Grimaldo delivers a cross into the box for Patrik Schick he gets his head on it But it is blocked by the opposing defense. Kaiserslautern formulated a reply in the 4th minute Daniel Hanslik took a strike from distance but Lukas Hradecky able to come up with the save. Leverkusen stayed at the front of it. In the 6th minute. Alex Grimaldo saw the goalkeeper slightly off his line. The Spanish fullback unleashes a deep strike from 35 yd out as he tries to catch him slipping It was a nice idea but drags. In the 11th minute Jermaine Frimpong got a little closer as he retrieves the ball from Robert Andrich. The Dutchman strikes at a complex angle coming close but goes over the corner. The chances just kept coming. In the 13th minute Patrick Schick drags an effort from the left side of the box that is deflected off of the Kaiserslautern defense. Then in the 15th minute Florian Wirtz show this quality as he cuts into the box before being denied by the goalkeeper from close range. They were knocking on the door and then the moment happened. In the 17th a minute lightning would strike! Leverkusen pushing the ball Just outside the box Kaiserslautern pokes the ball from Leverkusen as it pushes It further back however Xhaka steps up and absolutely crushes it from distance as he sends it from well outside the box into the top corner to give leverkusen a 1-0 lead!

Xhaka has scored on very few occasions this season but when he has They have always been stunning. Strikes this one being no exception a Golozo! Leverkusen take a big step towards a double. Kaiserslautern looked to return fire in the 18th minute as Daniel Hanslik goes for it again from distance But it’s nowhere near the target as Lukas Hradecky doesn’t need to react to it. Leverkusen kept their control and momentum going for them. Kaiserslautern had barely any of the ball and and couldn’t get anything going for themselves. Leverkusen had something like 70% possession with the goal and the lead They just found themselves in a point of control. No need to take any and huge risks and just maintain their level as they look for a second. In the 27th minute off the corner kick hit by Jonas Hoffman It lands in the space of Alex Grimaldo. He unleashes an effort from distance. It comes reasonably close But can’t find a second for the German Champions. Everything remained unchanged. However, unfortunately in the 44th minute they would be reduced to 10 men. Kossounou picks up a second yellow card as he is sent off in the final. He will miss the first match of next season. This would end the first half with Leverkusen holding a 1–0 lead thanks to a stunner strike by Xhaka.

  • Leverkusen are in good shape if they maintain their control the way they have thus far. Kaiserslautern have had their chances but haven’t been able to capitalize on them yet. Leverkusen just need to hold them off as much as they can. A goal back, especially at a man disadvantage could completely change the trajectory of the second half. In the 55th minute Leverkusen are at it again. Florian Wirtz Once again shows his quality and why he was named the player of the season. He puts forth a well-timed pass into Aldi before the speedster takes a strike in front of goal as he is denied by the goalkeeper. He ends up winning them a corner. In the 56th minute Alex Grimaldo delivers in a cross for Josip Stanisic The Croatian gets his head on the end of it as he drives it over the corner. We start to see a little pushback from Kaiserslautern. In the 59th minute Ragnar Ache drills and effort from distance but once again doesn’t really test the goalkeeper. However, he came back a few minutes later with another chance In the 62nd minute Once again operating from distance this time Lukas Hradecky forced into a save. Kaiserslautern has been primarily utilizing space from outside the box and haven’t had a lot of success. For them to turn this around. They need to look to try to cut inside and take a different approach otherwise. Leverkusen are just going to sit there and glide to victory. However their approach remained very similar. In the 73rd minute Puchacz goes for deep coming relatively close but lands on top of the net. Kaiserslautern Still looking to turn it around and potentially send it into extra time. However, time was running out for the Bundesliga 2 side. Inside the last 10 minutes in the 84th minute Marlon Ritter looks to unload a strike from distance but ends up seeing his strike deflected before leverkusen retained possession. Leverkusen as the times ticked looked looking to kill it off with a late goal. In the 90th minute Xhaka connects with Wirtz as the Superstar strikes from close range but is denied by the goalkeeper. Kaiserslautern tries to find Just one more moment, but it frankly never arrived. The full-time A whistle goes as leverkusen have completed the league double capturing the German cup as Xhaka’s strike in the first 20 minutes is enough to propel leverkusen to another trophy!

Leverkusen was understandably devastated after being picked apart in Dublin in the Europa League final. It was their worst performance of the entire season. It’s unparalleled to detect exactly what happened on that night. However, it’s clear it just wasn’t going to happen. Certainly, a difficult thing to witness is seeing a 51-game unbeaten run come to an end. On top of that, we’re talking about a team that had a treble possibility on the table. Leverkusen needed to put that in the back of their mind because they didn’t have time to mourn about it with another huge final just a few days later. On Saturday afternoon in Berlin, leverkusen put forth the right response and reaction to losing in Dublin. Kaiserslautern might not have been the most ferocious opponent. They are in Bundesliga. 2 we’re never going to be promoted this season. However, they got the reaction. They were looking for. A really strong performance that they dominated in many ways. Close to 70% possession. They didn’t have to unload the clip in front of goal. They were very smart and very meticulous The way they went about it. There’s no question. There’s a degree of regrets not being able to pull off the treble. However, leverkusen has only won this trophy on one other occasion. Inside the same year. They capture the bundesliga title for the first time and the German cup for the second time. I don’t have to go over what we all know. Alonzo has done a terrific job. Not only tactically in what he’s done on the pitch but also the level that he has shown from the very beginning of his time here. The majority of these signings that he brought in have absolutely smashed it. The health of Wirtz being restored, 18 goals and 20 assists this season after missing a large portion of last season due to an ACL injury. People forgot about him and this season he showed everyone that he is the best young player on the planet. They had to survive with a man down in the second half after a sending off in stoppage time. However, they handled the situation well. Very deserving of the praise that they certainly are going to get now. A trouble would have been nicer but two trophies for a club that hasn’t won anything significant since the '90s It certainly nothing to write home about. This is probably in a nutshell the greatest season they’ve ever had. They have a very compelling argument against Bayern Munich 2011-2012. The second most points in history, The second most wins in history. The second most goals in history and the least amount of losses in history. The only team in Germany to ever go an entire season. Unbeaten. Now there is a point of contention with Byron Munich, but they have a strong argument as the greatest bundesliga side of all time. However, leverkusen themselves probably won’t even care about that. The only thing that will be valuable to them Is the trophies that they’re going to put on the table. Two out of three ain’t too bad. It is a huge moment for everyone. However, as I said before, there are two players in particular that deserve this more than any other that would be Lukas Hradecky and Jonathan Tah. They have been here through the hardships the up and downs more than any other. Both of them over the age of 30 with the possibility of winning something significant dwindling for them to be able to get their hands on these trophies with all the work they put in has been truly magnificent. Leverkusen will be back and will it be a serious threat again. With another trophy possibility in August when they will take on Stuttgart in the German super cup. I expect them to be one of the favorites for next season and to reload even further. It’s been a season to remember for leverkusen and The Bundesliga as it ends here in Berlin with Leverkusen capturing the German cup completing the league double!

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