Xabi Alonso tactics: strategies that have led to Leverkusen’s success

Xabi Alonso tactics: strategies that have led to Leverkusen’s success

Kevin Omuya
May 14, 2024 at 12:40 PM
In this article:
Xabi Alonso logo
X. Alonso
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Bayer Leverkusen logo
Bayer Leverkusen
Germany
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Jeremie Frimpong logo
J. Frimpong
Bayer Leverkusen logoDNetherlands logo
Granit Xhaka logo
G. Xhaka
Bayer Leverkusen logoMSwitzerland logo

After turning around a failing Bayer Leverkusen squad, Xabi Alonso has quickly become a household name in the world of club management. A perfect example of this was their stunning triumph in the Bundesliga. Xabi Alonso's tactics are primarily responsible for the comeback, which has seen the club go from a period of doubt to outstanding success.

Xabi Alonso
Xabi Alonso after the UEFA Europa League match on May 2, 2024 (R). On the left, he gestures during a Bundesliga match on November 6, 2022. Photo: Stefan Brauer, Giuseppe Maffia/Getty Images
Source: UGC

Table of Сontents:

After using the World Cup break to figure out his playing style, the midfielder, who had previously played for Liverpool, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich, turned around Leverkusen's 2022–23 season in just six months. When Xabi Alonso was named manager of Bayer Leverkusen in October 2022, many were taken aback. Without a doubt, Alonso took a massive risk by accepting a position as an assistant coach at a top club.

Xabi Alonso tactics

What are Xabi Alonso's tactics? Their stellar season has qualified them for the Champions League again and advanced them to the Europa League semi-finals for the 2024–25 season. After taking over as manager, Alonso instituted several crucial strategies, which have been miraculous. This article examines and explains Xabi Alonso's tactics.

1. Improving players

Frimpong and his coach Alonso
Jeremie Frimpong of Bayer Leverkusen and Xabi Alonso on the touchline during the Bundesliga match against Borussia Dortmund on April 21, 2024. Photo: Jürgen Fromme
Source: Getty Images

Xabi Alonso's tactics in Leverkusen Alonso have not only enhanced the team's overall performance but also pushed his players to reach their full potential. A player like this is Piero Hincapié. He used to play left back in a back four when Seoane was in charge, but now he can roam freely up the field.

He is versatile enough to play as either a left-sided centre-back or a winger in a three-person defence, and he can even make an impact up front. On top of that, his physique is tailor-made to meet the strategic and pressing needs of Alonso's approach.

Another performer who has stood out is Jeremie Frimpong. In the past, he mostly played as a right winger or a number 10, but since Alonso came in, he has been a right-wing-back who can get up and down the side very well.

With this change, Alonso has been able to pin the other team's full-backs and make room inside for his number eights or wide forwards to work. If Leverkusen builds on the right, Frimpong stays high up the field and attacks from the vast areas, which he does well.

2. Playing a well-understood system

Xhaka and coach Alonso
Xabi Alonso, head coach of Bayer Leverkusen, and Granit (L) embrace each other on April 21, 2024. Photo: Christof Koepsel
Source: Getty Images

So far this season, Alonso has implemented the strategy in all of Bayer's Bundesliga matches. There is a three-person central defence in front of Lukáš Hrádecký, with Xhaka and the unavoidable Argentina World Cup champion Exequiel Palacios forming a double-pivot midfield.

Grimaldo defends the vast regions and gets in on the attacks, while Jeremie Frimpong is on the right and patrols the wings. As a double ten, Hofmann and Florian Wirtz are behind Boniface during the assault, pulling the strings.

Following Xabi Alonso's tactics and formation, every player knows their place in Xabi Alonso's tactics in FM24, to put it briefly. There is space for the quick, wide guys to advance since the centre of the field is crowded with bodies.

3. Continuity in team selection

Since the aforementioned new lads have been allowed plenty of uninterrupted time to settle in, it should be no surprise that they have adjusted so successfully. There has not been a single Die Werkself Bundesliga game this season where the Spaniard has not started the same starting lineup. Seven players have started every game for the team, with three more starting at least ten times.

4. A case for the defence

Edmond Tapsoba
Edmond Tapsoba of Bayer 04 Leverkusen runs with the ball during the Bundesliga match against Borussia Dortmund on April 21, 2024. Photo: Leon Kuegeler
Source: Getty Images

Even though Leverkusen are a formidable offensive force, they have also impressed on defence. The only team with fewer goals conceded than Leverkusen is Bayern, with nine compared to eleven. Die Werkself have also kept five clean sheets.

As a result of their meticulous tactical planning, Leverkusen has an astonishing record for being an aggressive team: they have not let a goal on the counter-attack. Despite their front-line defence, they had the most excellent offside record in the league with just ten flagged players.

Leverkusen have let in 107 shots on goal, which is second-fewest behind Bayern. The eleven ample opportunities that have been produced against them are more than any other team, save Eintracht Frankfurt. The Alonso squad is first-rate down the field.

5. Even attacking zones but goals through the middle

Of all the Bundesliga teams, Leverkusen has the most evenly spread attacking zones: 29% along the left flank, 20% within the left channel, 18% inside the right channel, and 33% down the right. But most of the time, the goals come from the middle of the field, where players like Wirtz, Hofmann, Xhaka, and Palacios can direct the attack and set up the wingers for success.

They scored three goals from midfield, the third-best figure in the league. Goals by Grimaldo and Frimpong result from wide men trying to score themselves rather than putting crosses in.

6. Set pieces

Victor Boniface
Victor Boniface of Bayer Leverkusen during the DFB cup semi-final match against Fortuna Düsseldorf on April 03, 2024. Photo: Lars Baron
Source: Getty Images

Set pieces are Leverkusen's strong suit, but they can also depend on their explosive play in open play. Set plays are crucial to Alonso's team even now, and he was a free-kick maestro while playing for Real Sociedad, Liverpool, and Real Madrid before that.

Another Bundesliga record Leverkusen have broken this season is the number of goals they scored from set pieces. This is how close games can still be decided when the team is in the trenches.

7. Pass masters

Like his countryman Grimaldo, Alonso may have been able to score from a free-kick. However, the distribution style he instituted with Leverkusen is likely the thing that will stick with fans the most.

Although Seoane was in charge for the first two months of the season, Bayer still managed 51% possession on average. That figure has increased to 58% for this term. Plus, they have completed passes at a rate that is second to none in the league.

Bayer's pass ratio remains 89% when only third-quarter passes are considered. This is even though third-quarter passes can be more complex than centre-back passes that only fall a few yards.

Frequently asked questions

Alonso has led Bayer Leverkusen to Bundesliga victory for the first time in 119 years. Here are questions about Xabi Alonso's tactical analysis that made him victorious in the 2024 season.

How is Xabi Alonso doing at Leverkusen?

In Bayer Leverkusen, he had an incredible turnaround when he took over in October 2022. Leverkusen achieved the first Bundesliga championship.

What formation does Leverkusen use?

Bayer Leverkusen
Jonas Hofmann of Bayer Leverkusen celebrates with teammates after scoring during the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 on April 11, 2024. Photo: Lars Baron
Source: Getty Images

3-4-2-1. Xabi Alonso has brought a new level of sophistication to Bayer Leverkusen's soccer plan. The 3-4-2-1 configuration favours has changed the tide of the match.

Did Xabi Alonso win the Champions League with Real Madrid?

At the beginning of the 2009–10 season, he signed a roughly £30 million agreement to join Real Madrid. Bayern Munich of Germany recruited him for a two-year deal after winning several honours during his five seasons with Real Madrid, including the league title in 2012 and the Champions League in 2014.

How did Leverkusen qualify for the Champions League?

After beating Hoffenheim 2-1 on Matchday 27, Leverkusen firmly secured a spot in the top four and qualification for next season's Champions League. With their victory over Frankfurt, Bayer also secured a place in the top club competition on the continent.

Final word

The new players have bonded with the old in record time, and Leverkusen's system is a real challenge under Xabi Alonso's tactics. Leverkusen looks like a much stronger squad on defence and offence with Alonso in charge.

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Authors
Kevin Omuya photo
Kevin Omuya
Kevin Omuya is a Content Writer with 4 years of experience who joined Sports Brief in 2022. In 2019 he held a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Digital Media from KCA University.