Liverpool face Burnley at Anfield on Saturday afternoon, but the Reds will also have eyes on the meeting between the top two in Germany ahead of their big summer decision
The last manager to stop Bayern Munich from winning the Bundesliga title will leave Liverpool this summer, and the last manager to stop Bayern Munich from winning the Bundesliga title could replace him.
For that to happen the Reds will have to appoint Xabi Alonso to succeed Jurgen Klopp, and Alonso will have to do what so many have failed to do in the past 11 years and ward off the threat of German football’s greatest power.
If he can do it, especially this season after Bayern added the guaranteed goals of Harry Kane, then Alonso would go a long way towards dispelling doubts that he is the man to step into Klopp’s sizeable shoes. Whoever follows Klopp won’t be the same character, but if they’ve done some of the same things then it won’t hurt.
Alonso’s Leverkusen are top of the Bundesliga table, winning 16 and drawing four of their 20 matches, but that is still only enough to have them two points clear of Bayern. Beat Thomas Tuchel’s side on Saturday evening and the gap grows to five, with the belief perhaps even wider.
But it isn’t just the league that Alonso is excelling in. Leverkusen are unbeaten in 30 matches stretching across three competitions. They came from behind twice to reach the semi-finals of the German Cup in midweek thanks to a Liverpool-esque 90th minute winner.
Two of the other three semi-finalists are from the second tier and there could still be a third. So decorated as a player, Alonso should win his first major trophy as a manager from here. Klopp won the German Cup at Dortmund too.
Then of course there is the Europa League. Leverkusen sailed through the group stages winning all six of their matches, and ahead of the last-16 kicking off next month they would be considered as favourites for the competition were it not for the presence of one club.
Liverpool and Klopp have used the Europa League impressively this season as minutes have been given to some of the club’s newer recruits to get them up to speed with their new environment, but once the knockout phase starts it would be a shock if they didn’t at least reach the final.
Leverkusen will be one, perhaps the only, side capable of beating them over two legs, but the dream scenario would be that they only meet over one, the final at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on May 22.
Could it be there that Klopp brings down the curtain on his remarkable Liverpool career by capturing the one trophy he’s never won with the club, maybe adding it to a few others he’ll pick up this season? Could it be there that he looks into the eyes of his successor and hands him the keys to the Red machine?
All of that is to come, but first there is Bayern Munich at home for the unbeaten Alonso on Saturday evening. In his previous job the proud Basque took Real Sociedad’s B team to the second tier of Spanish football for the first time in 60 years, but winning the Bundesliga with Leverkusen would be on another scale of achievement, especially against this Bayern.
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And it would bring him a little more in line with Klopp too, something which – when added to the things that the Anfield faithful already admire him for – would take him into the territory of the one and only man who can follow The Man.
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