Exclusive | Dietmar Hamann discusses Bayer Leverkusen’s chances of winning the Bundesliga & what life could be like after Xabi Alonso

In an exclusive interview with Get German Football News, courtesy of King Casino Bonus, former Bayern Munich, Liverpool, and Germany international Dietmar Hamann spoke about Bayer Leverkusen’s chances of silverware this season. As well as this, Hamann also discussed what life will be like for the Werkself if head coach Xabi Alonso decides to venture for pastures new.

It has been quite an interesting year to be a German football fan, mainly as it has not been straightforward for Bayern Munich. Instead, Borussia Dortmund took them all the way last season, while Bayer Leverkusen have been remarkable this campaign. What do you make of the job done by Xabi Alonso since he’s taken charge at Leverkusen?

“Oh, it has been brilliant. I think they have beaten the record of Hamburger SV, having gone 25 games unbeaten in competitive matches this season, and they have only drawn three or four, so what they have done is very hard to put into words. This is a team that Xabi Alonso took over last year when they were second from bottom in the Bundesliga table, and now they play very dominant football, and it is a joy to watch. Pace, power, guile – and they even defend well. They do, however, lose four or five key players due to the African Cup of Nations, so it remains to be seen how they will get through the next few weeks, but I think they will win the league this season.”

There are consistent rumours linking Alonso away from the Werkself, especially if they are to win the league this season. Simon Rolfes has done a great job at Leverkusen, but do you think that he can find a replacement for Alonso?

“If they were to win the league, it would be something they have never done; they have finished second quite a few times. With Xabi, they will find it hard to replace him, as he has worked wonders in the eighteen months since he took over the club, but usually they are well prepared for these situations. Come February, come March, they will have an idea of whether Xabi will stay or not. The public may not know by then, but I am sure the club will. If he does go, I am sure they will get a good replacement. Can they truly replace him? No, they can’t, but I am sure they will bring in a very good manager. It is up to Xabi if he wants to leave. Obviously, (Carlo) Ancelotti is going to stay at Real (Madrid) now, so you need to see what happens in Munich and who wins the league. He may go over there, but that might not be the case; he may stay at Leverkusen for another season. But I think there is a chance that he will leave in the summer.”

You mentioned previously about the African Cup of Nations that is coming up. Do you think this is a big January coming up for Leverkusen? Will they need to bring players in?

“Well, there has been talk about it, but these players would only come in for three or four games. What if some of their players get knocked out and are back after one or two games? I think one of Leverkusen’s first or second games is pretty early on, and they play away to (RB) Leipzig. I think it is a pretty tricky situation. I mean, they loaned (Josip) Stanišić from Bayern Munich, which I think was a master stroke, as while he did not play that much at the beginning of the season, he will become a very important player now while the defenders are away. At the same time, it is hard to buy a player and bring them in if they are just going to play three or four games. I think they have got players; (Piero) Hincapié did not play that much, Stanišić did not play that much, up top (Victor) Boniface will be gone now, and in (Adam) Hložek they have a player who can step in. Schick came back from injury too, so they may bring one player in, but in all, I think they are well prepared for the players who leave.”

As you mentioned, Leverkusen have never won the Bundesliga, finishing second more than any other side who have failed to win the title. Do you think this is a problem that could linger over the club going towards the end of the season?

“Well, I think the last time they finished second would have been a long time ago. I am not sure whether any of the players at the club would have been there. I am not even sure Simon Rolfes had a season there in which they finished second. We talk about these games in the 2000s, where they lost to (SpVgg) Unterhaching on the last day of the season. I think it was 2002. It was a long time ago, and I do not think it would put them off, and it would be great if they could top what these guys have done, as they always did great, especially getting to the Champions League final. They had some great players in Lúcio, Zé Roberto, Dimitar Berbatov, Emerson, and Michael Ballack, so many great players. If they have a chance this season, which I think they will, I do not think what those guys done will put them off. I think a lot will depend on how Bayern Munich play, as Bayern are capable of winning eight to ten games in a row, and whether Leverkusen will be able to keep up with them, we will wait and see, but I think they have a great chance of doing it this season. If they get through the first four or five weeks, they play Bayern Munich at home in the second half of the season. If they get through the first four or five weeks, then I think they will.”

Do you think that Leverkusen could go unbeaten this season?

“Have Bayern ever done it? I don’t think they have. I know when Arsenal did it in 2003/2004, they were unbelievable. The way Leverkusen play, after 15-20 minutes, you never feel as though they are going to lose a game, but they have to play Bayern Munich again, and they have to play RB Leipzig. No, I cannot see them going unbeaten, but then again, if you had told me they would go unbeaten for the first half of the campaign, I would have said no chance, not in a million years, so do not rule anything out.”

GGFN | Will Shopland

Get Football+

More European Football News