Bundesliga News

Xabi speaks on competition between Hofmann and Adli for starting slot

By Peter Weis   @PeterVicey

Bayer 04 Leverkusen trainer Xabi Alonso took an interesting take on the most fiercely contested position in his starting XI at his Friday presser. 
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Ahead of this evening's massive matchup against German giants FC Bayern München this evening, German footballing diehards cannot help but think back to the last time Bayern 04 Leverkusen welcomed the record champions to the BayArena for a league fixture. Leverkusen's 2-1 home win on match-day 25 of the 2022/23 Bundesliga campaign set in motion a chain-of-events with enormous ramifications for German football. The loss led to the sacking of FCB trainer Julian Nagelsmann over the March 2023 international break. Bayern and the Bundesrepublik itself have new coaches thanks to the result.


Leverkusen's famous win over Bayern also sticks in the mind due to the bizarre incidents in which Werkself starter Amine Adli initially received two yellow cards for diving before VAR reviews reversed referee Tobias Stieler's on-pitch ruling and awarded Leverkusen two penalties. Journalists attending B04 trainer Xabi Alonso's Friday presser were naturally curious as to whether the surging Adli - who came off the bench to help lift Leverkusen to victory over Stuttgart in the Pokal on Tuesday - might be in contention for Jonas Hofmann's starting spot in Xabi's front-three. Hofmann has been sagging in confidence somewhat recently and was given a break from the XI by his coach in the league last week.

Alonso didn't commit to either player, also choosing to remain mum on whether he would deploy Patrik Schick or the newly-acquired Borja Iglesias as his lead striker in tonight's critical showdown. All four players are actually competing for a start against Bayern. Alonso may dispense with a classic nine entirely and place Adli on a false-nine divot on his top attacking axis. This may add a flexible element of tiki-taka play capable of exploiting Bayern's unsorted defensive ranks. Florian Wirtz can also operate as a false-nine whilst Adli takes over Wirtz's regular role on the left.

"Jonas is a very important player for us," Xabi remarked at his presser yesterday,  "He has the intelligence to be in the right space. I have no doubts about Jonas. Adli is nevertheless always ready to play whether off the bench or from the start. He's a top player with a great mentality who can have a great impact."


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