Granit Xhaka addresses Bayer Leverkusen’s title charge for the first time

After Bayer Leverkusen’s 2-1 win against Mainz on Friday evening which extended Leverkusen’s lead at the top of the table to 11 points, Granit Xhaka addressed the club’s title charge for the first time.

When asked about Leverkusen’s aim, Xhaka said (via kicker): “We have to be patient. We have to believe in it like today, even if we were a little lucky with the second goal.”

On the pressure that can be experienced during such a title race, Xhaka said: “I see it in such a way that we have something to lose. Because it is not self-evident that you have an eight-point lead over the second. If someone has the feeling that we are now looking at what happens after 34 match days and that we have nothing to lose with eight or now eleven points, he is wrong.” 

Xhaka has experienced going up against a juggernaut of a team having been part of an Arsenal side that crumbled under pressure against Manchester City in the Premier League title race last season. The 31-year-old can take this experience with Arsenal and apply it to this situation at Leverkusen.

Last night was one of those tough games that if a team desires to win the title needs to win. Leverkusen took an early lead through Xhaka against relegation-fighting Mainz but threw away the lead four minutes later. Die Werkself would continue to dominate the game but were unable to create anything until Xhaka’s midfield partner Robert Andrich took a pot shot at Mainz keeper Robin Zentner. Zentner would fumble the ball straight into the Mainz goal to give Leverkusen a 2-1 win.

The win sees Leverkusen break the German professional record of 32 games unbeaten set by Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich as they won their 33rd game of the season. 

GGFN | Jack Meenan 

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