After the next last-minute rush, they wanted to quickly get back to everyday life at Bayer Leverkusen. “Everyone does their own thing, a bit of regeneration and recovery,” replied sports director Simon Rolfes when asked whether the team would watch the top game between rivals FC Bayern and Borussia Dortmund together in the evening after the 2-1 win against TSG Hoffenheim.

“One goes home a little faster, the other stays a little longer. We carry on as normal and concentrate on ourselves.” Like on many other Saturdays.

Thanks to their own victory, the lead over Bayern temporarily increased to 13 points on the eighth-to-last matchday. But by concentrating on themselves, they continue to do very well in Leverkusen. Against Hoffenheim, Bayer was 1-0 down until the 88th minute thanks to a goal from Maximilian Beier (33rd) and was close to their first defeat in the 39th competitive game of the season. “After they hit the post and the crossbar, I thought: Maybe today is really our day, maybe they stop believing in themselves,” said Hoffenheim coach Pellegrino Matarazzo: “But they don’t.”

“We have created a winning mentality here”

First a combination of the three national players Florian Wirtz, Jonathan Tah and Robert Andrich equalized, then Patrik Schick even secured the victory with his fourth goal in stoppage time in March. “We have created a winning mentality here,” said the coach “We were always convinced that we would get our chance. It has happened so many times.”

Alonso also assessed the situation in the championship objectively, even though he was still unaware of the result from Munich. “It’s one less game again, so the situation is a little better. But there’s still a little work to be done,” he said. But on Saturday the feeling grew that Bayer was simply unbeatable.

Also because of chic. “It’s unbelievable that we’ve achieved such an incredible finish again,” said the Czech: “So the euphoria is obviously huge. Now we’re one step closer to our big goal.” Alonso praised: “He’s always in the right place at the right moment. Strikers need patience. And the belief that they’ll get a chance and then be there. And that’s what he was.”

Alonso’s stay creates additional euphoria

The international break wasn’t really relaxing for Leverkusen. As a result of the success, 19 players were involved with their national teams, many playing two games. But Alonso had used the peace and quiet at home to rethink his future. And his announcement caused additional euphoria among Bayer fans. “Thank you Xabi” scarves were sold at the entrances, and there were numerous posters with the coach’s name and hearts on the stands. When the line-up was announced, the coach was celebrated loudly again.

“It was a very special moment for me before the game,” said the former world and European champion: “This connection with the fans is very special. They are a part of this victory. And for me, a reason to work here they have something to celebrate.”