Sports

May 17, 2023

Europa League: Alonso promises Leverkusen fans ‘a night to remember’ against Roma

Europa League: Alonso promises Leverkusen fans ‘a night to remember’ against Roma

CREDIT: Bayer Leverkusen (Twitter)

Bayer Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso said he wanted to give the team’s fans something to remember for years in Thursday’s Europa League semi-final second leg at home against Roma.

Leverkusen lost 1-0 in Rome but Alonso, who tasted Champions League glory with Liverpool and Real Madrid, said his side knew “the result is still open”.

“Our goal is that in a few years, people will remember tomorrow night because of the atmosphere and the passion we will have,” said Alonso, who took over Leverkusen in October and lifted them out of the relegation zone to European contention.

“I feel the energy from the team and we’ll give everything.

“When we’ve given everything, then we can leave with our heads held high.”

Alonso admitted, however, that he was not able to second-guess what Roma manager Jose Mourinho, who coached Alonso for three years at Real Madrid, would be thinking ahead of the return leg.

“It’s not easy to know what’s going on in his mind,” said the Leverkusen manager.

“He’s a special character. He’s able to transmit a winning mentality to his teams and he’s doing that in Rome.”

Leverkusen midfielder Florian Wirtz said on Wednesday his side “don’t need a miracle” to reach the Europa League final and have the quality to “turn the game around”.

“We would have liked a better starting position, but there does not need to be a miracle tomorrow,” the 20-year-old midfielder said at Wednesday’s press conference.

“We have shown in Europe again and again what we are made of and what our strengths are.”

Leverkusen have beaten Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Union Berlin and RB Leipzig at home this season and Wirtz said his side “know we will have the stadium behind us”.

“In Rome, the whole stadium was against us. (The fans) will motivate us from the beginning, even during the warm-up.

“I definitely want to get into the final. Nothing else matters.”