Xabi Alonso calls for focus ahead of Bayer Leverkusen’s Rheinderby against Köln

Xabi Alonso has called for focus from his Bayer Leverkusen players ahead of their 14km trip to Köln for the Rheinderby on Sunday. Die Werkself could find themselves just five points ahead of Bayern Munich come kick-off, while FC Köln are fighting against relegation this season.

“Games like these are always special,” said Alonso. “You notice that in the warm-up and the songs the fans sing. There’s always a very special atmosphere at the derby. The rivalry is part of that but it belongs on the pitch.

“Our anticipation is great as is the respect for the match and FC Köln. We need to be fully focused, we need to play with our hearts but also with our heads on Sunday.”


Injury boost for Bayer Leverkusen

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Alonso confirmed that Exequiel Palacios would return to the squad after a five-week layoff, but Arthur and Victor Boniface continue to work on their comeback.

Should Bayern Munich beat Freiburg on Friday night, Alonso’s Leverkusen will be just five points ahead of the Rekordmeister with the race for the Meisterschale truly heating up as we enter the latter stages of the season.

GGFN | Daniel Pinder

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