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Champions Leverkusen return to Bochum a year on from last defeat

Bayer Leverkusen face Bochum this weekend in the Bundesliga. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP

Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen travel to struggling Bochum on Sunday, the site of their last league defeat all the way back in May 2023 – the final matchday of last season. 

Back then, not even the most optimistic Leverkusen fan could have predicted how brilliant the following 12 months would have been for Xabi Alonso’s side. 

With just two major trophies in their history before the start of this season, Leverkusen are on course for a remarkable treble, having qualified for both the Europa League and German Cup finals. 

But despite their incredible season, Leverkusen’s hopes of being the first side to go through a Bundesliga season unbeaten faces a real challenge on Sunday. 

Bochum are strong at home, having inflicted the defeat on Bayern Munich in February which cost Thomas Tuchel his job.

In May 2023, Alonso’s revolution was already in full swing. The Spaniard took over with Leverkusen in relegation danger in October 2022 but stopped the bleeding and set his side on course for European qualification.

On the final matchday, Leverkusen came to neighbouring Bochum needing a win or a draw to guarantee a Europa League spot, having lost only once in the league dating back to February. 

For Bochum the situation was dire: only a win would lift them out of the relegation mire. 

Leverkusen winger Amine Adli saw straight red after just eight minutes and Bochum were 2-0 up by half-time, adding a third in the dying stages to climb to the safety of 14th. 

Bochum’s thrilling 4-3 win at Union Berlin on Sunday has them in a slightly better position than last season, but a win will guarantee top-flight football next season regardless of other results. 

Union, who were playing Champions League against finalists Real Madrid in December, are one point clear of the drop and play at Cologne on Saturday. 

The Berliners will need to win to stay ahead of 16th-placed Mainz, in the relegation play-off spot, who host Dortmund. 

On Sunday, Bayern – licking their wounds after a controversial Champions League semi-final elimination by Real Madrid on Wednesday – host resurgent Wolfsburg.

One to watch: Jamie Leweling (Stuttgart)

On loan at Stuttgart from Union Berlin, winger Jamie Leweling has the rare honour of being in Bundesliga success stories for the past two seasons.

While Leweling mostly came off the bench as Union stunned everyone by reaching the Champions League, he has played a key role this season as Stuttgart have done the same. 

In third place, Stuttgart beat Bayern Munich last week to draw two points behind the second-placed side and could still overtake them with two games remaining.

Leweling has played every game this year for Stuttgart, laying on seven assists and scoring four goals. 

Speaking with the Bundesliga website on Wednesday, Leweling praised coach Sebastian Hoeness for transforming the club. 

“He has built something here. He will want to go for it again next year and want to show what we can do in the Champions League.”

Key stats 

0 – No team has ever gone through a Bundesliga season unbeaten. Leverkusen are two games away. 

12 – Since former Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuettl was appointed in March, Wolfsburg have 12 points – behind only champions Bayer Leverkusen (14) and Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund (13). As a result, the Wolves are guaranteed to avoid the drop.

36 – Harry Kane has 36 goals. The England captain has two games remaining to break Robert Lewandowski’s single-season record of 41.

Standings provided by Sofascore

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