Bayern Munich captain Manuel Neuer said former team-mate Xabi Alonso has his unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen playing in the ex-midfielder’s own image, before Saturday’s clash between the sides.
Bayern travel to Leverkusen this weekend sitting in the unfamiliar second spot in the Bundesliga table, two points behind Alonso’s unbeaten league leaders.
“It’s like how Xabi played when he was a player,” Neuer said of Alonso’s Leverkusen in an interview with the Bundesliga website.
“He gained an insight into a good passing game, playing with a lot of possession, and he passed this onto his team.
“He’s a player who really enjoyed having the ball and his team have this character, where they want to have the ball and not chase it,” the 37-year-old goalkeeper added.
Leverkusen are yet to lose a game this season in any competition, winning 25 and drawing four of 29 matches.
Germany’s Neuer, who played alongside the midfielder for three years in Munich, said Alonso had transformed Leverkusen.
“He took over the team in a very difficult moment and still showed straight away that things were only going to go in one direction,” Neuer said.
“You noticed immediately that Xabi Alonso and Bayer Leverkusen are just a good fit for each other and that has an effect on players.”
A Leverkusen victory on Saturday would move Alonso’s side five points clear atop the table with 13 games to play.
Runners-up five times, Leverkusen have never won a German championship, while Bayern have won the past 11 Bundesliga titles in a row.
Of the current Bayern squad, only Neuer and fellow veteran Thomas Mueller have finished a campaign at the club without winning the league.
“We have known success and we need to keep this motivation going in order to avoid the feeling of not being champions,” Neuer said.
“That feeling is deeply present in me and I don’t want to experience it again.”
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