Bayer Leverkusen's key games on the road to Bundesliga glory


Champions for the first time in their history after one of the most remarkable campaigns ever seen, we pick out Leverkusen’s best games on their road to the Bundesliga title.

Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Bayern Munich

We start with the obvious and without doubt the biggest result for Xabi Alonso’s side as they beat the kings at their own game on Matchday 21. The gap between the two was only two points ahead of the meeting at the BayArena. Victory for leaders Leverkusen and they’d pull away; success for the visitors from Munich and they’d take to the summit.

It turned into an Alonso masterclass against the club with whom he’d won three Bundesliga titles as a player. Bayern-owned Josip Stanišić put Die Werkself ahead before Alejandro Grimaldo, who’s been superb all season, fired high beyond Manuel Neuer to grab a second. Partner-in-crime on the wings Jeremie Frimpong then added a third in added time to round off a huge result.

That was impressive in itself, but there was also the way Leverkusen completely controlled the defending champions. Bayern were restricted to an xG of only 0.27, which is their lowest figure since that stat was introduced some five years ago and meant they managed only one point against the future champions all season. It moved the Werkself five clear, which soon became a 10-point advantage that would not be squandered.

Watch: Leverkusen 3-0 Bayern - highlights

RB Leipzig 2-3 Bayer Leverkusen

Although the score was the same as the opening weekend encounter between these sides, the Matchday 18 fixture in Leipzig was a very different story. Leverkusen weren’t quite in the groove yet following the winter break and had needed a 94th-minute winner from Exequiel Palacios to edge Augsburg in the first game after the restart.

Lightning would indeed strike twice for the Werkself as they again demonstrated their never-say-die attitude that has characterised their remarkable campaign. Twice they went behind at the Red Bull Arena, twice they levelled through the unlikelier goalscorers of Nathan Tella and Jonathan Tah, before fellow defender Piero Hincapié popped up to snatch a winner once again in added time.

It is one of only two Bundesliga games this season that Leverkusen have won when trailing. Normally that would sound like a negative stat, but remarkably they have only fallen behind in five matches in 2023/24 – every other team has trailed in at least 10 fixtures. They drew the other three to ensure that unbeaten status kept going through to Matchday 29. And without those goals in added time, they’d have been seven points worse off and not yet champions.

Watch: Leipzig 2-3 Leverkusen – highlights

Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim had given Leverkusen a fright earlier in the season after coming from 2-0 down by pouncing on lapses in concentration before Die Werkself hit back again to claim victory in Sinsheim. It was very nearly worse for Alonso’s side when they met again at the BayArena on Matchday 27.

Maximilian Beier had put the visitors ahead just after the half-hour mark, prompting a furious Leverkusen response. The hosts had a season-record 36 attempts as they peppered the Hoffenheim goal in search of an equaliser. For 88 minutes it looked as if their unbeaten record this season would be coming to an end, until Robert Andrich popped up to level.

For most teams, the relief of no longer being in a losing position will have been enough to shut up shop and play out the draw. Not this side. As so often this season, Leverkusen became Laterkusen as Patrik Schick – not for the first time – popped up to snatch a 2-1 win.

It was a result that moved them 13 points clear of Bayern, who lost Der Klassiker later the same day, and was perhaps the moment where any remaining doubters came on board and accepted that this was going to be Leverkusen’s year.

Watch: Laterkusen 2-1 Hoffenheim – highlights 

Bayern Munich 2-2 Bayer Leverkusen

We got a first taste of Laterkusen way back on Matchday 4 as the early leaders visited second-placed Bayern for an acid test. The pair were level on points after winning their opening three fixtures and remained tied at the end of 90 (plus crucial added time) thrilling minutes at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern started well and went ahead inside seven minutes when Harry Kane headed in a corner before Leverkusen hit back in style with a peach of a free-kick from Grimaldo that left Sven Ulreich no chance. It spurred the Werkself into life as an end-to-end encounter developed on Friday night.

Disaster looked to have struck in the 86th minute when Leon Goretzka swept home to restore the defending champions’ advantage. Victor Boniface then missed a glorious opportunity to hit straight back. And then into added time, Alphonso Davies tripped Jonas Hofmann in the box, presenting Palacios with a chance to level once more, which the Argentine duly took four minutes beyond the 90. Dayot Upamecano thought he’d snatched the winner again after that but was offside as it ended all square in Munich and the Werkself had laid down their marker as title contenders.

Watch: Bayern 2-2 Leverkusen - highlights

Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Borussia Dortmund

This was another game that underlined Leverkusen’s title credentials, but more so in hindsight than at the time. They had won 18 of their 19 competitive fixtures (plus the draw in Munich) before welcoming last season’s runners-up to the BayArena in the midst of a very congested period that included UEFA Europa League group games and the DFB Cup round of 16.

And it also was one of those rare occasions where Alonso’s men fell behind, after Julian Ryerson put Dortmund in front after five minutes. The Werkself then knocked and knocked, soon bashing at the BVB door before Schick – after barely 100 seconds of Bundesliga action following his extensive injury woes – teed up Boniface to level with 11 minutes to go and with the team’s 20th attempt on goal that day.

It was most certainly a point gained for Leverkusen on the same weekend that Bayern’s encounter with Union Berlin was postponed, meaning that, even though Bayer had opened the door by dropping points, the champions wouldn’t be able to walk through it at the time – or ultimately at all this season.

The fact Bayern were then thrashed in Frankfurt the following week also meant that the subsequent 1-1 draw in Stuttgart also kept them out in front. The bottom line was that while Leverkusen kept on racking up the points, Bayern stumbled too often, and it proved the difference.

Watch: Leverkusen 1-1 Dortmund – highlights

Bayer Leverkusen 5-0 Werder Bremen

Bayern and Stuttgart did their bit a day earlier with wins over Cologne and Frankfurt, meaning Leverkusen had to do things the hard way with victory needed to wrap things up at the BayArena in front of their own fans. Rather fittingly, it was Victor Boniface who got things rolling with an opener from the spot in the 25th minute meaning that the home-made Meisterschale trophies in the stands wouldn't go to waste.

Their key man in the middle of the park then clinched the points with half an hour to play as Xhaka swept home brilliantly from long-range to fittingly cut off any Bremen hope and start the long-awaited party at the BayArena. With the crowd jumping, it was then Wirtz who ended things with a stunning hat-trick, his first-ever, to close out the most stunning of seasons.