Xabi Alonso and his Bayer Leverkusen one step away from immortality

DUBLIN-. He Bayer Leverkusen He is two games away from immortality in European football and Xabi Alonso has the formula.

The new German champions will play two cup finals in four days – the first will be on Wednesday in the Europa League against Atalanta – to complete an astonishing undefeated season in domestic and international competitions.

On Saturday, Leverkusen will be the overwhelming favorite in the German Cup final against a Kaiserslautern team that finished 13th in the second division, very close to falling into the relegation playoffs.

So, the great challenge for coach Xabi Alonso's team is game number 52 of 53, in Dublin, against an Atalanta team that has closed the season on a strong footing.

Appropriate considering that the Europa League has brought dramatic moments for Leverkusen.

Three times in six games in the knockout phase, the team was losing 2-0 in the final stretch of the second half, and even down in stoppage time: in both round of 16 matches against Qarabag and in the second leg of the semifinals against the Rome.

They also stayed undefeated in Europe when they visited West Ham in the quarterfinals. Leverkusen seemed on track to qualify with the aggregate score, but needed a goal in the 89th minute from right back Jeremie Frimpong to tie 1-1 and remain undefeated.

“We don’t want to wait until the last seconds of the game,†said Czech striker Patrick Schick, whose three goals in stoppage time against Qarabag in March to advance 5-4 on aggregate. “We want it to be understood, we have to sentence him early.”

Other big European clubs added the prestigious Champions League trophy after winning the domestic title, unlike Leverkusen that aspires for the second most important tournament on the continent.

In any case, Manchester United in 1999, Inter Milan in 2010, Barcelona in 2011 and Manchester City last year were anticipated. Each of these teams began their season with squads full of luminaries and renowned coaches – Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola – who had already established themselves in multiple competitions.

This was Alonso's first full season at the highest level. His team suffered relegation last season. They didn't sign any stars during the summer.

“It is something very special,†the 42-year-old Spanish coach said last week. “My first title as a coach is the Bundesliga. Really special. But a title in Europe would be wonderful and I hope we can talk about that.â€

Alonso was crowned twice in the Champions League as a sober midfielder in Liverpool and then with Real Madrid, which will face Borussia Dortmund for the title of the current edition of the Champions League.