myOne after the other. This is the motto with which Xabi Alonso also speaks and acts in the week that Bayer 04 Leverkusen plays on Sunday (5:30 p.m. in FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and on DAZN) can become German champions for the first time with a home victory over Werder Bremen. On Thursday afternoon, Europe, or more precisely, remained Europa League in the focus of the future teacher. The rival at the BayArena was West Ham United, seventh in the Premier League, who in the first leg of the quarterfinals sought to end the Rhineland's golden streak of 41 competitive games without losing.

Vain. In the end, Bayer, like so many times in the Bundesliga, beat a difficult opponent. Thanks to the goals from substitute Jonas Hofmann (83rd minute) and center forward Victor Boniface, recently recovered from adductor surgery, who headed the score to 2-0 (90+1). Alonso was very happy. “We wanted to be prepared, we were prepared,” he said. However, progress is not yet certain: “It is a good result, but it is not over.”

It remains an excellent starting point to qualify for the Europa League semi-finals after the second leg next week. West Ham, who in the previous round were too strong for SC Freiburg, ninth in the Bundesliga and won the second leg 5-0 after a 1-0 draw in southern Baden, were not as strong this time. strong enough to resist the Rhinelanders. After 42 unbeaten matches, Bayer 04 are looking forward to the championship party on Sunday afternoon, when the Werkself win at home. Werder Bremen can win the most important title in national football for the first time.

Hofmann with the door opener

From the point of view of the Bundesliga first team, the main thing before the break was to find a space in the London defensive alliance, grouped in a 5-4-1. Alejandro Grimaldo (20th) and Patrik Schick (30th) were close to scoring with their long shots, but as in other scenes, the fabulous Polish goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was against it.

West Ham only had occasional counterattacks to counteract the combinatorial drive of the Bayer factory. But the Hammers could also be happy that their rustic Brazilian playmaker Lucas Paquetá got away with a yellow card after kicking Adli and Wirtz (21). So it was 0-0 at half-time after a good Werkself performance, but one that lacked determination.

This was followed by the weakest phase of the home team. When things got dangerous, like with Schick's header, Fabianski came back with a remarkable save (71'). But not anymore, as Hofmann, fresh and energetic, took advantage of his second chance to make it 1-0 after a corner kick from Grimaldo.

A goal that Boniface saw shortly after as an invitation to come back as a scorer to make it 2-0 after Jonas Hoffmann For the second time, this time with an assist, he deserved a clear success on this night of celebration, shortly before the next big day, when the championship is on the program. “I got goosebumps when the fans sang,” an excited Hofmann told RTL: “To be able to lift the trophy at the end of the season means everything. “That's the moment when the tears can flow, it overwhelms you, you let your emotions run wild.”