Ahead of Saturday’s Bundesliga Topspiel between Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich, Thomas Tuchel heaped praise on Xabi Alonso with Die Werkself currently sitting two points clear.
“He’s a hugely important foundation,” said Tuchel (h/t: iMiaSanMia). “Leverkusen have been good in their squad planning. Xabi Alonso’s mark is clearly recognisable there.
“Huge praise, but we won’t change our approach.”
Although three successive Bundesliga wins, Tuchel has called for improvement following recent criticism.
“We’ve got room for improvement,” added Tuchel. “We’ve gotten used to things like injury-enforced absences and haven’t lost any ground. We’re ready and going to Leverkusen to turn things around and lay our cards on the table.”
Tuchel will be without several key players heading into this game. Alphonso Davies is sidelined after picking up an injury last weekend against Borussia Mönchengladbach while Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry are still out. January arrival Bryan Zaragoza is also absent, while Konrad Laimer will also miss Saturday’s game.
As for Bayer Leverkusen, Victor Boniface is their noticeable absentee after picking up an adductor injury while Exequiel Palacios is also missing. With Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations final, Odilon Kossounou is also absent.
The reverse fixture truly was a spectacle. Leon Goretzka scored what he thought was a winner four minutes from time, but Palacios scored a penalty in the fourth minute of stoppage time to secure a 2-2 draw.
Heading into this game, Bayer Leverkusen are 30 games unbeaten but this game really does feel like a title decider. Lose, and Bayern Munich will be five points behind Bayer Leverkusen. Win, and Tuchel’s side will climb one point clear.